Seventy-five years ago today America was attacked at Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy. It happened 40 years before I was born and so I sit here wondering exactly what I should write in regard to such a historic event.
Those are the numbers of killed and wounded.
December 7, 1941. It was a lifetime ago, yet a lifetime is not long enough to erase the horror of it. In 25 years, when we reach the centennial of this global tide-turning event, perhaps it will remain in our hearts and minds just as vividly. There will be no more World War II veterans to thank or embrace, but hopefully we will still honor them as we do today.
That attack, as devastating as it was, saved the world, or at least most of it. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the mastermind of the attack, said, “We have awakened a sleeping giant.” Indeed they did. Less than four years later history’s worst war ended and Japan was decimated by those they ambushed.
To an extent, America had already become involved in the war, providing England and other Allies with much-needed supplies and food through the Lend-Lease Act of 1940. The draft had already begun. But who knows how long America would have held out before fully committing to the war?
What is known is that we were officially at war with Japan on Dec. 7. Four days later, we were officially at war with Germany after Hitler declared war against the US. What is known is that we won. What is also known is that more than 400,000 American soldiers lost their lives in the war.
There is very little to be thankful for during a war. There, however, is much to be thankful after a war. It is being thankful that it is over. For many, though, their thanks begin on this date 75 years ago. That day signaled the moment help was on its way, and it did show up in the great red, white, and blue.
Pearl Harbor. I did not live through it. I have never been there. But perhaps, somewhere between now and the centennial memorial, I will go there and remember as much as I can about the importance of the event. The event that took America by surprise, but left the world better off four years later.