Thanksgiving has passed and that usually signals a major turn towards "the holidays" as we say. But before we start the yearly shopping, partying, and festivities of the season, we need to take a breath and think about some good men who served this nation, many giving their all for their country three-quarters of a century ago. Remember Pearl Harbor.
December 7th marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on our naval base in Hawaii. 2,403 U.S. servicemen were killed on that day, 1,177 on the USS Arizona alone, (nearly 4 out of 5 men on that ship) and another 429 sailors and marines were killed when the USS Oklahoma was torpedoed and capsized. More than 1,000 were wounded.
The whole thing lasted just two hours, but it was devastating: The Japanese managed to destroy nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight enormous battleships, and more than 300 airplanes. The next day President Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan and they complied. Three days later Germany and Italy joined with Japan in declaring war on the United States.
It was estimated that around 60,000 servicemen survived "the day that will live in infamy." Of course with each passing year their numbers dwindle. Strangely, no one really knows exactly how many veterans of Pearl are left. Last year it was estimated that 2,000 to 2,500 were still alive; this year it's anybody's guess. (Only five crewmembers from the Arizona are still with us.) Whatever the actual number of Pearl Harbor survivors is, all Americans should honor them, as well as the fallen ones, and in so doing let the world know that WE WILL NEVER FORGET. G0D bless them all.
Remembrance of an event like Pearl Harbor can take many forms. For some it might mean lighting candles, placing flags on graves, praying, and engaging in other non-violent, quietly respectful activities, which is like an extended mourning period. All of that is nice up to a point.
But to my way of thinking, the proper way to remember an attack such as Pearl Harbor and to honor the people who perished because of it should be to do whatever we can do to make sure the damn thing doesn't happen again. That means building the strongest and smartest military on earth. That means not allowing foreign despots to run wild and push us around because they think America is impotent and won't stop them. That means protecting and preserving the Constitution, strengthening our boarders, and assimilating only those who share our American values. That means strengthening alliances with our tried and true allies and not making backdoor deals with enemy countries that continue to play us for fools.
Remembering those who gave their all to protect freedom and secure American liberty should be much more than releasing doves into the air and making sad speeches once a year. We honor our heroes not by crying for them, but by keeping America strong and secure and free. To that end we must be vigilant. We cannot turn our backs from the evil in our world.
As President Abraham Lincoln said at his Gettysburg Address, "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
After December 7th 1941 we swore that we would never let something like that happen again. But on the morning of September 11th, 2001 it happened again. We must assume that evil will try to hurt us again, and again. Evil people will not leave us alone because we disengage from the world or give them billions and billions of dollars. They will only stop if they think we will punch back.
Remember Pearl Harbor. Remember 9-11. Once was enough. Twice is certainly more than enough. We can't let it happen a third time.