Dad’s Birthday

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Today is Pearl Harbor Day, the 75th anniversary of that day that lives in infamy. It would also have been my father’s 101st birthday.

On that fateful day, my mother was preparing a birthday party for her fiancée. It wasn’t going to be a surprise party but there were lots of friends and family attending. The party turned out to be anything but a celebration and my dad’s enlistment happened a few weeks later. After training he was sent to Pearl Harbor, on a classified mission, assigned to the cryptography team responsible for tracking the Japanese military code.

While in Pearl Harbor, he regularly wrote letters to my mother. When she received the letters portions of them would be highly redacted.

My dad’s commanding officer called him into his office one day and asked, “Citrin, what’s your wife’s name?” When my dad told him her name was Pearl, the CO buried his face in his hands. Apparently the censors were snipping my mother’s name from wherever it showed up in the letters convinced that my father was trying to tell her where he was stationed.

Sometimes we try to get ahead of potentially dangerous situations by setting up procedures designed to mitigate problems before they happen…but that strategy can backfire unless we’ve done a careful job of making sure we’ve properly researched all the facts.

Happy Birthday, Dad

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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