December the seventh, “a date that will live in infamy,” passed quietly this year. A few Pearl Harbor survivors met and vowed to continue meeting. A back-page story in the newspapers.
The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor was a defining moment for my generation. Our country came together in a crash of anger. Political differences evaporated. We rushed to war with Japan, Germany, Italy – all those countries that were our enemies. And we prevailed, not as easily as Hollywood would have it, but decisively.
All of that agony and loss, and our enemies are now our friends. Strong nations that we count as allies in new conflicts. The hatreds that were burned into my teenage angst submerged but not forgotten. Those live on with John Wayne and the old movie channels on TV. Some of us old guys remember Pearl Harbor. Shouldn’t we forget?
There is a lesson here, one we should ponder. Our country today faces a more difficult enemy. We toy with the idea of some kind of remote war. The path is not clear, not as it was in December of 1941. Ideologies don’t die under bombs. We yearn for the strong leadership of WWII. Where can we turn?
Did 9/11 inflict itself on our teenagers, as Pearl Harbor did my generation?
December 10, 2014
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” – Robert Walpole.