Dec. 7, 1941: A date that lives in infamy

It was the most profound and cowardly sneak attack in the history of man. At exactly 7:55 a.m., on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States was suddenly plunged into a great conflict that would become World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy struck at Pearl Harbor. And struck hard.

The United States’ Pacific Fleet was ravaged. The Japanese sank four battleships, three cruisers and three destroyers. Destroyed were 188 American aircraft. Wounded were 1,282 service personnel. The American death total numbered 2,402.

What took the Japanese mere minutes to do on a beautiful Hawaiian Sunday morning 78 years ago today was destined to forever alter world history. The attack — a surprise and unprovoked — stirred patriotism which remains unchallenged.

Public opinion, which had favored isolationism, emerged as support for direct participation in the war. Soon-to-be-young patriots across our land were spurred to enlist mere days after the attack.

The sleeping giant had indeed been rudely awakened. It was angry.

The United States did participate in war. It won wars on both sides of the globe. It is a near incomprehensible feat that ranks as the biggest achievement in our country’s history — the greatest achievement by our nation’s greatest generation.

You really have to pause in this day and age and wonder if our country could do now what it did then in fighting simultaneously — and defeating — two monsters. And you have to wonder just how much this staggering accomplishment is lost on today’s younger generations. If not completely. How well is this prodigious chapter in our nation’s history being taught? Hand an average high school student a globe. Does today’s student even know where Pearl Harbor is? Let alone what it represents what it means to any of us of a certain age? Think of what it means to the dwindling number of World War II veterans. Our country is free because of these wonderful Americans and the patriotic efforts they made.

Today, on the anniversary of the brutal attack by the Japanese, let us remember all of the lives lost; all of the lives forever changed and all of the sacrifices made.

We are the greatest nation ever and it is because of the unbelievable effort and wherewithal that Americans displayed during World War II. That should never be lost on any of us. Nor should it be lost now that 78 long years removed from that brutal attack and 74 years since World War II’s closure, we continue to lose to the ages a precious commodity on a daily basis: our World War II veterans who are reaching the ends of their own cycles of life. They are all into their 90s by now. And, for a few, then some. God bless them all.

Just as we suggested this past Veterans Day, let’s stop and thank those served. It is sad that advancing time is claiming so many of our World War II veterans, many of whom fought the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean Theater. We have many veterans in our own area. Take time to thank them. Let’s strive to pass along to our children and future generations the importance of appreciating the efforts made to keep the American way preserved. Let’s do that in and out of the classrooms.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was right when he declared that Dec. 7, 1941, was a date that would live in infamy. It has and always will. We must never forget or disregard Pearl Harbor Day. On this day, each and every American should pause, reflect and be grateful for the effort it took to repel evil. It is the very least we can do.


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