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Tuesday, December 7. 2010
I checked Google News to see what the nation’s press has to say this year on the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and throughout the Pacific. Very little. A little about how few survivors are still alive today. A little about the dedication of the renovated Memorial over the USS Arizona. A few scattered services.
What does December 7, 1941 mean today?
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Nothing! To the Proggy Tumbuffers, all that Dec.7th shows is that the US couldn't manage to talk out our problems with Japan. Shame on us!
Notice how we managed to avoid war with Germany by ignoring the minor dustup on the Continent.
Wasn't that the correct thing to do?
On this day in 1941, my uncle was in the Philippines, and, because his unit was overrun sometime in January of '42, he remains there still.
Among the lessons from the disaster that overwhelmed Allied forces in the Pacific, its the need to back up tough diplomatic talk with even tougher military strength. The Imperial Japanese were backed into a corner with a narrowing window of opportunity and took it.
I sort of view it the same as Kennedy's assassination. Horrible, shocking, changed and defined the nation I live in now, but I wasn't around. All that happened before me, as did a long string of other historical events, and as something "current", it is quickly fading from the collective conscious.
But many of the things I grew up with and were important - especially being from the South - are fading away even at 40. Many of the Southern traditions of course date from the Civil War, but the country moves on and the importance of these things decline over time. It isn't a morality judgment of the event by the newer generation, just something from history that isn't felt as being very relavent.
better than previous years, when TV ran stories about the environmental pollution still happening because of all the toxic chemicals seeping out of Arizona and that was about it.
Fully in line of course with the liberal agenda to wipe out history except when it strenghtens their POV (which is rarely, the heroic Soviets deposing of the treacherous oppressive Czarist regime comes to mind, but even that's a stretch and they'd have to stop the history books about a week after the revolution started else kids start asking nasty nagging questions).
We had employed sanctions to attempt to change the behavior of a belligerent, fanatic nation, and those sanctions squeezed them painfully, right up to the point at which they had to make a choice - turn off their war machine to please us, or use it to attack us.
Does this in any way perchance remind us of any rogue governments around the world today?
On December 7, 1941 ["a day that will live in infamy" President Roosevelt called it] I was 13+ years old, and traveling with my parents and my 17 year old brother to a restaurant in the outskirts of Milwaukee when we heard the news of the Pearl Harbor attack over the car radio. In the dead stillness after Dad turned off the radio, my parents looked back at my brother, absorbing the fact that he would soon be drafted into the military, as so many young men were. They suddenly looked older.
I asked Dad, "What's going to happen now, Dad?" and he answered, "We're in it now, just like the British and the Canadians. When we get home, we'll tune in and see what the news programs say."
I'll never forget that moment. I think that's the day when my childhood ended.
That's a very personal and powerful account, Marianne.
If you don't mind me asking, what became of your brother?
Marianne, I think that there were a lot of childhoods that ended that day.
"Notice how we managed to avoid war with Germany by ignoring the minor dustup on the Continent."
Americans were generally uninterested in getting involved in the European war. We had our hands full with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
But then Germany unilaterally declared war on the U.S. on December 11, 1941.
Worst mistake Hitler ever made. Had he concentrated on Europe, he probably would have ruled the Continent, and the Soviet Union.
His second worst mistake: allowing the British standing army to escape at Dunkirk. He could have easily bagged them, leaving only the home guard, consisting of old men and boys, defending the UK. Capturing the British army would have neutralized Great Britain, denying the U.S. its forward staging area to invade Europe.
Two mistakes that made all the difference in who won WWII.
[PS: Thanks for remembering Pearl Harbor. Fewer do every year.]
Ms. Matthews, your account reflects exactly what people should have been reflecting upon today. Thank you for sharing a part of history we all should have been thinking about today.
That date ought to mean the same as does Sept.11, 2001. At Pearl Harbor (I was a six-year-old) a surprise attack killed 2500 Americans and others; in NYC a similar attack killed 3500 Americans and others. In 1941, though, congress got on its feet and declared war, but in 2001 we couldn't bring ourselves to do much more than plaster flags on our cars. I suggest invading Saudi Arabia and destroying the terrorist-training madrassas. Too extreme for you? How about stopping the catch-and-release of muslim warriors, our enemies in Afghanistan and elsewhere?
Nate ... What happened to my brother, you ask? He was drafted into the Army and went on to serve in the artillery in Europe. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, along with many other brave young men, and survived it to come home safely. His best friend, my fiance and first love, went on to become a ski trooper, and died bravely on the slopes of Mt. Belvedere in Italy. He was 19, and was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery.
I will always remember him, and miss him.
My husband and I were surprised that there was hardly any mention of Pearl Harbor in the news. My dearly departed father and his two brothers in arms all fought in the three armed forces during WWII. So it was with thanks and appreciation to Marianne and others for sharing their experiences. Maybe it is sometimes left to those who share their memories of the past that allow us to honor those whose courage define our country.
Marianne - thank you for posting.
I am going to phone my parents now and ask them their memories.
I know that my grandfather wound up working in the Brooklyn navy yards, and his brother enlisted.
The Jews were perhaps more concerned with the Nazi threat than other Americans - my grandfather's generation were eager to do something - but my great-grandparents had the memory of Jewish boys being press-ganged into the Tsar's army. Jewish men serving as free citizens in the US Army was a real cultural turning point for the American Jewish community.
It was a cultural turning point for many of those Jews who or whose families had more recently immigrated from Eastern Europe, a signal assimilation. However, Jews throughout US history have played a signal role in the US armed forces. See: http://www.aleph-institute.org/history-of-jews-in-the-us-military.html
wonderful comment thread --especially you, MM, the way you evoke whole worlds with such spare prose.