Honoring the Greatest Generation
Seventy-six years ago this week, on the Sunday morning of Dec. 7, 1941, U.S. military bases in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were assaulted in what has been termed a “sneak attack” Japan.
It was that. There was no reason at all why it should have been what some have called it, a “surprise attack.”
Since then, we Americans have observed Dec. 7 of each year as Pearl Harbor Day for several reasons.
We mourn the 2,403 Americans who died in the attack– and the millions upon millions of others, both civilians and in the armed forces, who perished during World War II.
We remind ourselves how grateful we should be for those in the military, both then and now, who refuse to be beaten, even when facing fearful odds.
We reflect that war, once a confrontation restricted to armies and navies, has become a bloody contest pitting every man, woman and child in a nation against their adversaries.
For many years, Pearl Harbor Day was a time when we thought about the danger of complacency and vowed, “never again!”
Never again would we Americans allow an enemy to grow strong as we did nothing to stop it. Never again would we permit ourselves to be taken by surprise.
Those words were something of a collective promise to ourselves and our posterity for many years.
Then, on Sept. 11, 2001, it happened again. The ensuing war against Islamic terrorists continues.
Even before that attack, however, we had broken the vow. Less than five years after World War II ended, Americans were caught in another war on the Korean Peninsula. It claimed the lives of 34,516 of our people; another 7,800 remain listed as missing.
We knew then a dangerous threat to peace existed in North Korea. Yet for decades, with both Republicans and Democrats in power in Washington, we did little to prevent that regime from building up its arsenal. Some argue that by providing “humanitarian” aid, we assisted the Kim dynasty in holding onto power.
Now, Pyongyang has long-range missiles and nuclear explosives.
Just a few men and women who were in Hawaii on that terrible day more than three-quarters of a century ago remain among us. They were part of a generation that paid in oceans of blood for, ironically, an attempt to keep our nation out of war.
We honor them and those of the “Greatest Generation” who rose from the carnage of military defeat to march on to victory. As we do, we pray we will be able to duplicate that feat the next time we are called to account for our failure to keep from repeating history.