December 7, 1941, seems a long time ago but for some, it is just like yesterday. A surviving veteran is quoted today as saying this is a day he can never manage to forget. He might’ve been 18 years old at the time making him past 90 today and this day in history still haunts him.
We have repaired the relationship with Japan over the years, and we remember that we were ferocious in the war following the ‘sneak attack’ that caught us napping that fateful morning. Two new atomic devices wreaked havoc on Japanese territory. That was the dawn of the age of atomic warfare.
I wonder each year at this time just how we would respond today if a similar attack were to occur. Would we summon the will to fight back just as ferociously? Would this time also involve nuclear weapons? Would we emerge the victors and, if so, at what cost in lives lost and families destroyed? Or, would we succumb to a greater power? I pray to God that we never have to learn the answer to that question but admittedly we live in a world just as dangerous, if not more so.
Maybe the greater question is this: How would we, as a people, react if challenged again as we were challenged that day in 1941? Would we see people lined up outside recruiting stations waiting in line to volunteer, or would we see lines of vehicles and people waiting to enter Canada and/or Mexico? Would we find that we have as great an enemy residing within our borders? An enemy comprised of U.S. citizens who have no fight in them coupled with immigrants who have no sense of what the country has gone through in the name of liberty.
True, it took a bit of time for our U.S.-based industries to get on a war footing in that era, but they did and we all were behind the effort. I remember my father owning a cheese factory and being exempt from fighting because he was in the essential position of providing foodstuff. I remember the coupons my mother would take as we went to the local grocery store and the limitations on certain items that we simply had to make do without in order to support the fighting forces. There were no riots of which I was aware nor were there many able-bodied young men who evaded their duty. Tires were left on vehicles until they fell apart with the cords showing through. Sugar was rationed as were many other items.
My two uncles were conscripted into the battle. One was in the army and one was in the navy and both made their way overseas after a brief basic training period. There were, unfortunately, Gold Star families. The Gold Star indicated that the family had lost a son or daughter in what became known as World War II.
We, as a people, have changed quite a bit in that time span. In some ways, we have changed for the better and in others ways, the opposite is true. I wonder if there would be more “Suzy the riveters” working long shifts to provide military equipment for the troops? Or would we find excuses to avoid such duty? I wonder if we would be strongly supportive of our government, or if we would be parading in the streets in opposition to their actions? I wonder if we would be whiners because of shortages of things we had previously taken for granted, or if we would pitch in by making tin foil balls to reclaim the valuable metals?
I fear the need to learn if we’d measure up or if we’d dig a hole and hide in it until we were liberated or overrun. Would there be lines of patriots waiting to take their physical examinations and to be sworn into a branch of the military? Would the Black Lives Matter groups be patriotically inclined and willing to fight for their country or would they see this as fitting retribution for what non-blacks had wrought on them?
Again, I pray we’ll not ever be forced to learn the answers to those questions, but we need to remain cognizant of what our country has endured in order to reach the age it is; and we have to recognize the duty and responsibility that we each have to assure this country remains strong.
I cringe when I witness people in this country rioting over seeming injuries that don’t measure up to anything even approaching the levels of the injuries really suffered, not just imagined, by those who’ve gone before us.
So soon it seems that we forget. We have had lives that were filled with wonderful things, BUT there is no guarantee that will continue unless we are ready to defend our country and to defend its interests beyond our borders.
I believe this gets to the basic belief systems of conservatives and liberals. I am much more comfortable with conservatives running this country. I do not see a liberal leader that would make me feel as comfortable. Maybe that is just me; or, maybe what I see is accurate. There may be liberal leaders who would prove capable in times of danger to the country, but I do not think that would include anyone in the current cluster of liberals.
At any rate, thank you to our veterans, and to all who have given their lives for my/our safety and comfort. Sorry to have been so ‘preachy’ but there are, to me at least, some very obvious shortcomings when we compare us today to the ‘us’ that awakened to Pearl Harbor.