Eighty years ago this Tuesday, our parents and grandparents were shaken out of the routine of daily life – and their life’s trajectory changed forever – by the news that Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, home to the US Pacific Fleet and considered a deterrent before the Japanese attack, itself had been the target of deadly fire in a surprise Japanese assault. Other U.S. military installations on and near the island of Oahu were also affected on the morning of December 7, 1941, around 8 a.m. Hawaii time – 1 p.m. at the White House, where President Franklin D Roosevelt had just finished his lunch.
A total of 2,403 service members and civilians died that day, according to President Joe Biden’s “Pearl Harbor National Remembrance Day Proclamation 2021”.
That death toll included 1,177 USS Arizona crew members who lost their lives when the venerable battleship was sunk while in port. It is now a permanent memorial to all those who lost their lives on this “fateful date that will live in infamy”. On board Arizona that day there were 38 groups of brothers, The Virginian-Pilot newspaper reports, citing historian Walter R. Borneman – three-quarters of whom have died.
“To this day,” Biden said in his remembrance proclamation on Friday, recalling his own visit to the USS Arizona memorial ten years ago, “pearls of oil still rise to the surface of the water – Metaphorical “black tears” shed for the lost. in the attack. Reading these names carved in stone was a sad reminder of the sacrifices and the human cost of protecting our nation and the ideals of this great country. “
Yes, the human cost of WWII was great, affecting virtually every family, town, hamlet and town, and possibly every street in this great country as boys and men and some women went to war, from others went to work in factories, offices and for the war effort and everyone was saved, saved, recycled and reused. And these boys became men by serving, often for years before seeing their loved ones again.
Nearly 300,000 US servicemen have died in action and more than 400,000 have fallen in total, while nearly 700,000 have been wounded. And the whereabouts of the more than 72,000 Americans who fell in WWII are still unknown.
These facts unite us all in respect and gratitude for this joint endeavor of war fighting and domestic fires, factory work and wartime rationing, and a sad but stoic acceptance of the loss that was part of the price of war and victory and freedom. These qualities united our ancestors and enabled them to prevail, not only in this war, but in others.
But where is this unity of purpose now? Have we wasted this foundation of patriotism, can-do-ism, this common contract of citizenship that has always helped us stay free and strong? Where is this national determination which has enabled us, when called to action, to overcome small political and ideological differences?
On the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, let’s each take a moment to try to put aside our accusations, conspiracies and anger, if only for a day, and maybe reach out. to the last antagonist who annoyed us to talk about our valiant ancestors, instead.
Can we dig deeper and find those commonalities that should unite us again into one America, a strong and strong nation working together, inexorably to build a better, more just, and more prosperous United States – 50 United and Undivided States?
As the USS Arizona reminds us, this was the time when the brothers enlisted together, served together, and died together – as also happened with the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, who enlisted. less than a month after Pearl Harbor, then died when their light cruiser USS Juneau was torpedoed for the second time in the Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942, exploded and sank.
After World War II, the U.S. military adopted a policy that made it more difficult – but not impossible – for siblings to serve together in danger. And, some, perhaps many, still do so in today’s volunteer army.
We are at peace, but as seen through some lenses, our nation is in danger. Our divisions weaken us.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Pearl Harbor National Remembrance Day reminds us of a day that united us not only in anger and outrage, but also in determination, which galvanized every American to find what they are in common with all other Americans and to come together. fight for freedom. This determination is in us and asks only to be found.
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