December 7th 2015 is today’s date. This is the day each year since 1941 that we take the time out to honor the fallen war hero’s of Pearl Harbor. While it is good we do this it is also sad we must. It is sad that there are times when nations, and people, cannot find a way to reasonably solve their issues with diplomacy and resort to war. This is a day to remind us of one of those diplomatic failures as much as it is to remind us of the fallen men and women of this nation. Men and women who fell protecting our freedoms.
I wonder myself what it is they joined the military to protect. After all, we were in a world on fire back in those days. Germany was advancing through Europe and they were joined at the hip with Japan who was advancing through China and the pacific. Joining the military almost certainly meant that eventually you would find yourself in harms way.
On December 7th, 1941 harms way was exactly what happened. Japan attacked America’s pacific fleet while moored in harbor at Pearl Harbor. The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including 8 battleships. If there can be said to be a saving grace in such an incident it would be that the 3 American aircraft carriers were absent on maneuvers and thus avoided damage.
Japan tried to time the attack with a declaration of war that was supposed to be delivered by the Japanese consulate to the Americans in Washington DC as the attack began. Much is made of the fact that the declaration was late, which meant that the attack was a sneak attack. It is a trivial point as even if the declaration was delivered on time there was not adequate communication technology to warn the harbor and mount any real defense.
I am forced to go back to my previous thoughts. Why were those 2,403 people that died that day, and many others that didn’t, in harms way? What is it that drove them to take that call to arms before that day, and in droves after that day, to face a clear and present danger overseas on many battle fronts?
I think it might have been the idea that is America that they fought for. The idea of a country where every person has an opportunity if they want it. Every person has the right to say what they wish, and believe as they wish, and worship as they see fit. The idea that draws people to our shores because they have been told, time and again, by Americans, that America is the greatest. We are number 1, I know, I have heard the press release many times. Why wouldn’t people try to come here and take part in that?
I wonder if this America I see on display on social media every day is the America of 1941. I wonder, when I see presidential candidates preach fear and hate as a platform, and are applauded for it, if this America bears any real resemblance to that one of hope and dreams.
Without a doubt that America made mistakes. Maybe we held out of WWII too long. Certainly, in hindsight, locking up our Japanese and German citizens out of fear and ignorance was incorrect. Maybe we clung to our isolationist ways at the expense of a longer war and even more casualties.
We were not a superpower then. We were just another nation that happened to have a massive manufacturing base that was not being bombed every night. We were another nation that also had people willing to place themselves at risk to ensure that the idea that is this country survived.
I suppose I could get heavy handed, and specific, now and say a number of things that, to my mind, violate the idea of America. It would require we had the same definition of America itself that you would agree as there is no right version. One of the aspects of America though that is on its way out, as I see it, is the ability to have an opinion.
One of the things this nation stands for is freedom of speech. It is supposed to be requisite that, while I may find what you say appalling and in violation of everything I hold dear, as an American it is my job to defend your right to say it. This is a notion that is quickly becoming extinct. The likes of Ted Nugent calling for a cleansing of the nation through removal of liberal democratic humans. The calling of Ted Cruz’s father that atheists be rounded up and kept in camps. The cry that Muslim Americans be tracked and monitored as were Jews before and during WWII. The cries from the liberal left that gun owners have no rights. The cries from the liberals that everything is hate speech and racist.
In these assertions, these cries, there is usually a modicum of truth. But I remind you, as an American, Ted Nugent is allowed to say he doesn’t like or want liberals around. As an American Ted Cruz’s father is allowed to believe atheists are destroying America; he is not allowed to continue and suggest they be shot as he did. Liberals are allowed to say socialism is the answer. Liberals are allowed to say Ted is a racist, either Ted as it works for both. This is one of the basic tenets that those people put themselves in harms way on December 7th, 1941, to protect.
Today, I will take the time to remember those that lost their lives at Pearl Harbor. Also I will remember those that lost their lives on the many days after as the world fought over ideologies and religions and basic freedoms. I will hope that two world wars were enough, or even better, two too many. I will hope the world can begin to solve their problems with diplomacy, with reason, and realize, differences do not have to divide. Differences make lfe a little more interesting as we take time to learn about one another. If we just take the time to let the person in front of us turn from a demon we fear to a human being we can identify with we can find the world peace our Miss America’s so wish we had.
Today, and every day, is for fallen hero’s. Today in particular, is for Pearl Harbor.