Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

December 7, 2012

Remembering Pearl Harbor

VALDOSTA — President Franklin D. Roosevelt said Dec. 7, 1941, would be a day that would live in infamy. Yet, more than 70 years later, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has become something of a day to honor the sacrifices of the World War II generation.

Dec. 7, 1941: The day that drew America into World War II. The day when thousands of Americans died at Pearl Harbor. The day America learned that not even two oceans could protect its shores from attack.

With the war with Japan in the Pacific and Germany in Europe concluded by 1945, Dec. 7, 1941 became less of a rallying cry for a nation at war than a remembrance of an outrage that drew the United States into a war on several fronts. Dec. 7, 1941 served as the impetus for millions of American servicemen and women to battle and defeat the forces of Nazism, fascism and imperialism overseas.  

As the years passed from the date and the war, Dec. 7, 1941 has always been remembered but its significance to younger generations became similar to just another date in the history books.

Two things altered that perception in more recent times.

One was the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 9/11 was an alarm for younger generations that war and the potential for attack on American soil is not some relic from the history books. It was a shocking reminder that we do not live in some utopian, post-historic age where outrages like Pearl Harbor are something from a long-ago past.

The other was the realization that our World War II veterans are vanishing. The people who answered the call of Dec. 7, 1941 — the ones who made the sacrifices abroad and at home, those young people, who were really no more the age of folks we would consider boys these days, they were the men who dared save the world — they have aged and they are passing on. So, each Dec. 7 is another opportunity in a dwindling realm of possibilities to honor them.

Dec. 7, 1941 is a day which will live in infamy, but it also a date to honor those who made it the day when the sleeping giant of America awoke to stand against the darkness.

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