In an age when it seems that many people respond to any mention of historical events with blank looks, and the really annoying “I don’t know about that. I wasn’t born yet,” as if the world began at the all-important moment of one individual’s birth, it’s important to mention that today is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On Dec. 6, 1941, Pearl Harbor was an obscure, backwater American naval outpost in the Hawaiian paradise. Following the surprise attack on the morning of Dec. 7 by two waves of Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft, 2,402 Americans were left dead and 1,282 wounded.
All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four being sunk. All but one, the USS Arizona, were later raised, and six of the eight battleships returned to service and fought in the war.
The murderous incident instantly put this country on a war footing that has rightly become the stuff of national legend.
With “Remember Pearl Harbor” as its battle cry, the American nation mobilized into a military power that eventually would tilt the Pacific and European theaters of war in favor of this nation and its Allies. Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally on V-E Day, May 8, 1945, and Imperial Japan followed suit less than four months later on V-J Day, Sept. 2, 1945.
To this country’s eternal credit, the terms of the Americn peace for both Japan and Germany were generous and humane. Today, both countries are stable democracies, formidable global economic powers and reliable U.S. allies.
Pearl Harbor happened at a time when the United States had retreated into isolationism, allowing the forces of evil to rise unchallenged. In the “lead from behind” age of Obama, we appear to be in a similar time. Let’s hope we don’t end up with a similar result.