Monday, December 7, 2009

Will You Remember?

On September 11, 2001, Americans made a promise to never forget what happened; the attack, the heroism, the fallen. We will remember, we said. But sixty years earlier, Americans made the exact same commitment.
If you can remember what September 11 was like, you can imagine the way America felt on December 7, 1941. It was early in the morning when six Japanese aircraft carriers bombed the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The losses were devastating. Over two-thousand people died, over a thousand more were wounded, and much military equipment was lost.
Last year I interviewed some senior citizens about their Pearl Harbor day experiences. You can probably identify with them:

"Oh mercy. I was horrified. I could just figure how many of our boys we were going to lose that day. It just so happened that I didn't have any brothers in Pearl Harbor at that time. But my heart went out to the mothers and daddies that did." - Virginia Holland Melugin

"I can remember hearing President Roosevelt's address over the radio, saying it was a day of infamy. We were just at home at night in our living room...Oh, it was a tremendous shock. Everyone was kind of numb that night...I remember how everyone was so united. I don't think our country's ever been more united...working toward one goal." - Jesse Richeson

United. I believe America was also united on September 11, "working toward one goal." That goal was to defeat terrorism and protect our homeland.
We didn't hesite to enter WWII when Pearl Harbor was attacked. No longer was it a question of getting involved in another nation's was about guarding our own nation.
We didn't hesitate to enter the War on Terror when we were attacked on September 11. We understood that war is very unpleasant, but very necessary to defeat evil that threatens innocent lives.
And yet, only eight years later, we seem to have gone backwards in our thinking. Our current President refuses to even use the term terrorism anymore. He's weakening our nation's defenses, and is not prioritizing the war like he should.
(I am thankful that Obama finally sent the troops to Afghanistan that Gen. McChrystal has been desperately requesting for months. And yet I severely disagree with the President's declared "end date.")
If our thought process can change that much in only eight years, it's scary to think what can happen in sixty-eight years.

"A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are tyring to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about." - Woodrow Wilson

Remember Pearl Harbor today. Learn your country's history and teach it to your children. And be sure you don't ever forget it.

We will remember.