December 7, 2016 | By Wesley Arden Dick, professor of history
In November, our first-year seminar, A Sense of Place: Albion & the American Dream, traveled to Washington, D.C. to discover America’s history. On November 5, our students were exploring the national “World War II Memorial” when we encountered a gentleman who was wearing a hat with the insignia USS West Virginia. Hoping to talk with a World War II veteran, we introduced ourselves and he identified himself as Adone “Cal” Calderone from Canton, Ohio.
We were reminded that the USS West Virginia was bombed, torpedoed, and sunk, along with the rest of America’s Pacific Fleet, on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In asking for a declaration of war, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called December 7 a “day that will live in infamy.” No one knows the meaning of that phrase more than Cal Calderone. One hundred and six of his shipmates perished, part of the 2,402 Americans killed during the Pearl Harbor attack. Cal Calderone, though wounded, was one of the lucky ones who survived and he pays his respects to the men who lost their lives by telling the story of Pearl Harbor. He noted: “’I speak for one reason. I do it for the heroes of Pearl Harbor. And the heroes are the men who died, not those of us who survived. I do it for them because somebody has to remind people who they lost that day. And it’s been an honor.’”
And it was an honor for our class to spend a little time with one of the few Pearl Harbor survivors still with us. In making our pilgrimage to the revered “World War II Memorial,” we wanted to pay our respects to the “Greatest Generation.” Meeting Cal Calderone, who became a part of history 75 years ago, made history come alive for our Albion College class.