sunnuntai 4. heinäkuuta 2010

July 4th 2010

Dutch Harbor

It seems that more often than not we have to change our plans due to the weather. Now, the forecast is 15 to 25 knots from north-west. The wind speed is fine but the direction is not (headwind, once again!) and, as a result, we are still in Dutch Harbor. But the time has not gone to waste. The other day, Riitta bumped into Father Andrew and his lovely wife whom we had met already two years ago in Sand Point. The next day, they drove to the spit, and Father Andrew blessed Sarema and her crew. Father Andrew told us that we would also be included in their weekly prayers. Even though we are not religious, it is somehow very comforting to know that there are people praying for our safety.

Now that we had time to spare, we went to the Aleutian World War II Visitor Center and learned more about the history of the islands and the tragic events that took place here during World War II.
“In the early dawn of June 7, 1942, Japanese soldiers invaded the remote Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska, taking all the inhabitants prisoner and claiming the islands for the Japanese Empire. The Aleut residents of the island of Attu were taken to Japan for the duration of the war. Of the 40 captives,16 died over the next three years from disease and starvation. On May 11, 1943, after a year-long bombing campaign, U.S. Troops boarded transport ships for Attu, to wait off shore for the signal to invade the island. Lasting 18 days, the Battle of Attu was one of the deadliest battles of World War II, but it remains one of least well-known.
When the surviving Attuans were released by Japan in 1945, they embarked on a long journey home. When they reached Seattle, they were told that they would not be allowed to return to Attu, as the U.S. Government had decided that the cost to rebuild their devastated village was prohibitive.”
The extracts above are from a leaflet we got from the Aleutian World War II Visitor Center.
Today, Attu is owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. We have no knowledge of what happened to the Attuans that survived the ordeal.
The remains of pillboxes and Quonset huts that were abandoned after the war can still be seen all around the islands.

Now, back to the present. Today is the 4th of July, i.e. the country's Independence Day, and we are looking forward to enjoying some spectacular fireworks later in the evening.
And tomorrow, it is time to go!

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