As I sit here at 6:45 am Hawaii Time on the First Sunday in December 2017, my mind can’t help but wander back to the First Sunday of December 1941. That peaceful morning, much like this one, was shattered a little after 7:48 am Hawaii Time. The island of Oahu and Pearl Harbor, in particular, the morning that had been peaceful and sleepy much like today turned into a nightmare of fire, pain, and death as the Japanese attack riddled the US Pacific Fleet sitting gently at their moorings around Ford Island. Throughout that day, the record would show many acts of heroism and bravery of boys and young men who hours before did not have a care in the world other than what they wanted and where they would be at Christmas, a few short weeks away. The furloughs and transfers that many of those young men looked forward to never happened because after the last Japanese bomber flew away at 9:20 am, 2,403 Americans were dead with another 1,178 wounded, and the United States was at war. The boys of 41 at Pearl Harbor went from the carefree ways of boys to determined adults in the 92 minutes of the Japanese Attack. Out of the ashes of the hell that was Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the people and the industries of the United States were galvanized and delivered on Franklin Roosevelt’s December 8 promise to the nation and the world,
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
This morning has been a time of reflection for me and would I be able to rise to the challenge delivered in spades with the fires of burning oil from the ships on Battleship and the planes at Hickam Field and Ford Island along with the carnage of burned and dying men all around me. I genuinely do not know the answer to that question, but the men I have talked to from that day told me that they only did what they knew they had to do. All humans have a fight or flight mechanism that protects us when we are overwhelmed by things we cannot comprehend. Instead of running away, those men that day took the fight to the enemy as soon as it was apparent what was happening. They just did what needed doing during those chaotic 90 minutes that was the attack. September 11, 2001, is the only other time that America has come under attack on its soil, and there, like at Pearl Harbor, the men and women of New York did what they had to do.
With threats like those posed by North Korea and ISIS in the Middle East, I fear that America may face another attack which will mean that we are at war with people who want to destroy the freedoms our Nation provides. Will the United States citizenry that seems so divided by the matters of politics, religion, and ideology be able to reunite, heal the division, and rise to the challenge? I believe, there has always been disagreement and division within the nation, but like all families that have divisive disputes, tend to come together in times of struggle and put aside their differences until after the resolution of the external conflict, I believe the nation would do the same. Let us hope, we never have to test this theory in our lifetimes because our grandparents and great-grandparents faced it twice within their lifetimes. We must remember and honor the past for the sake of future generations and to prevent a repeat of the tragedies of World War I and World War II.