“A day that will live in infamy”

The Legacy of Pearl Harbor Can Be Found Again

While in the Navy, I had the pleasure of serving for several months on Ford Island, located in the middle of Pearl Harbor.  Each morning I looked out the window of my barracks and enjoyed the beauty of the Oahu.  I couldn’t miss the Arizona Memorial just a few yards away from the shoreline of the island.  On several occasions I took the boat out to the memorial.  It is typically a silent ride across the harbor, most of the tourist on the boat realized the solemn and sacred nature of our destination.

The silence continues on the memorial itself, interrupted only by hush whispers between visitors or the click of a camera.  The full magnitude of the Attack becomes more real when you read the names of those who were lost.  There is an eeriness in peering over the side of the memorial to see the shape of the Arizona there just below the surface of the harbor.  If you have not seen a battleship up close it is hard to realize the sheer size of the vessel.  Yet there clear water is her slowly rusting  hulk, the tomb of so many sailors taken by surprise on the December morning in 1941.

In the 71 years that have passed since the attack at Pearl Harbor the significance and sacrifice of that day has waned.   Few of us reading this were even alive when it happened.  Yet that does not change our need to continually remember and honor the men and women who died on this day.

December 7, 1941 is a dividing line in American history.  In a very short time our country went from being a third-rate military power to being the greatest military and economic power on earth.  This is the legacy we have inherited.  The people of that time-honored the sacrifice of the those lost and injured at Pearl Harbor by joining together.  Our entire country rallied to a common purpose and set aside their lives to achieve a common victory.

It doesn’t seem like that could happen today.  We are far too interested in our own self-serving purposes and our own victories to unite for a common good of the nation.  Where once this was our greatest strength, this lack of unity is now our greatest weakness.

If we are to truly honor Pearl Harbor Day let’s begin by thinking about our common purpose and start living and working to achieve a common victory.  That is the America that Pearl Harbor created.