December 7, 1941....A Day that will live in infamy. That is how Franklin Roosevelt described the day the Japanese Imperial Navy launched an aerial attach on the American Naval and Army Air Force Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It brought the United States into the World War II.
For the longest time afterward, this Day December 7,"Pearl Harbor Day" was held in very high regard. It was significant because it was the day our country got involved in the largest, most costly war in human history.
When I was a kid growing up in the 1960's, I vividly remember the Headlines in the paper, the War movies playing on TV (a big deal in that pre-video era when you had to catch John Wayne's D-Day Movie "The Longest Day" or the Pearl Harbor film "Tora, Tora, Tora" when the networks showed them). It was a day of honor, most adults and teachers at school talked about it a great deal. If you knew a WWII Vet. (and they were all around since 10 million men/women served in the military during the war)they were regarded with great esteem.
My generation now has a similar event in US History, 9/11. The attack on the World Trade Center Twin Towers and The Pentagon. The casualties for 9/11 were actually greater then at Pearl Harbor and the event seriously shocked US Citizens. The mood of the country at that time was very grim and uncertain, not unlike 1941 I imagine. One major difference though is we watched the 9/11 attacks in real time on television and the Internet. The country at the time of Pearl harbor mainly relied on Newspapers and Radio to get their news. But both events captured the attention of the world and both days are solemnly remembered every year on their anniversary.
That is pretty much where the similarities end, World War II has always been a war that was considered necassary to eliminate Nazi tyranny. There was no doubt that Hitler was hell bent on world domination and actually had a pretty good head start until he decided to Invade the Soviet Union, basically dooming his Third Reich to fight a hopeless, two front war. After the US entered the War, the end of the Reich was only a matter of time....tragedy, violence, destruction and blood.
The War On Terror has always been somewhat controversial, mainly because it wasn't as easy to define as the World Wars were and are. There are still many questions about what we should have and have not done after 9/11. No such debate occurred in December of 1941, we went to War and basically the whole country was behind the effort, for the duration, no matter the cost.
And the cost was very high (418,500 by most accounts). Though the numbers of American War dead were actually small compared to the USSR (almost 24 million dead) Germany (7 Million) Jews (6 Million) in the Holocaust, Japan (1.4 Million) it was still the most costly war in US History regardless. And the American people , especially those who lived through that time will never forget the horror and sacrifices of that War.
Still I'm afraid as time slips by, and the last of the WWII veterans fade away, that we as a country might begin to forget what happened back then. Forget the sacrifice of so many, for the cause of World Freedom. I hope this is not the case. Once forgotten, I'm afraid we might repeat the mistakes of the past and do it all over again. We simply cannot tolerate or allow another World War. I don't believe in my heart, that humanity would survive it....
Remember Pearl Harbor!