65 years ago, America learned to pull together

By Freedom Newspapers

Nearly every American who was alive at the time remembers what he or she was doing when the radio blasted out the news of a Japanese surprise attack on the United States at little-known Navy and Army bases in Hawaii.

Support for war had been building in the country, but many believed it was a European war that didn’t concern us. That feeling changed in 90 minutes on a sunny Hawaiian morning.

Just before 8 a.m. (11 a.m. in New Mexico) on Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese bombers attacked Navy ships in Pearl Harbor in an effort to cripple the United States’ ability to counter Japan’s military operations in the Far East.

They were only partially successful: The three U.S. aircraft carriers were at sea and thus were undamaged. However, 16 other warships were destroyed or damaged, although many were repaired and rejoined the war effort. Nearly 2,500 Americans, about half of them crew members on the destroyed battleship Arizona, were killed in the attack. Declaration or no, America was at war.

The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for and Congress approved a declaration of war that launched the United States into World War II and onto the global stage.

WWII is often seen by some as the “last good war,” by which they mean the last war in which the U.S. had taken the first blow and responded in kind.

Critics of subsequent wars note that few, if any, national interests were at risk in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Kosovo or Iraq. Afghanistan often gets a pass because of 9/11.

Those are all political and policy arguments. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the war that followed brought out the best in what’s right with America.

Americans of all ages, in all wars, demonstrate they have what it takes to defend our way of life. When we’re attacked as we were at Pearl Harbor, Americans pull together and make sacrifices for one another, many of whom we don’t know, but we know their liberty is at risk. And when one person’s liberty is at risk, everyone’s is.

The sailors, soldiers and Marines on that Sunday morning 65 years ago showed us how to act in difficult times. Emulating their actions is a salute to the survivors and a memorial to those who gave their lives for us that day.