Wednesday, December 7, 2005

TDIH: Pearl Harbor

There's more to this day than quoting FDR. More to it than illustrating the similarities between December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001. Far more to it than the sixth grade history lesson level knowledge we have of it. And yet, there are those who know nothing nor care to know about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that forced the United States into World War II.

I wasn't originally going to post on the Pearl Harbor anniversary as I've gone a little crazy on TDIH posts of late, but today as I was leaving a wonderful class where the professor truly cared and wanted us to care about the historical significance of Pearl Harbor, I heard someone mutter something about just because the professor is old enough to have been there, why should we care? Now folks there's not much that will make my blood boil, I get mad and get over it usually in the same breath, but there are a few really important things that I won't let slide. When my trumpet-playing brother is in danger I forget that I am a pacifist, when people dismiss or disrespect my love, trust, or friendship I won't stick around to put up with it, and when I hear someone ignoring their duty to history like today, I won't drop it. There are some things I don't take lightly, those three are on the top of my list. Why should we care?

This is why we should care...

Very rarely in American history have our core interests been violated. The British invasion in 1812, the Civil War, Pancho Villa invading New Mexico, and 9/11. Those are the only times in American history that stick out in my mind as moments of serious threat to American core interests. Pearl Harbor was a shock to a nation. The government knew that war with Japan was inevitable, but the disconnect between what the elites knew and what the general public knew led to the mass shock sustained that Sunday morning in 1941.

Following Pearl Harbor came the U.S. entrance into WWII, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, relocation camps across this nation for Japanese Americans (including one near my home town), and an overall shift in American foreign policy. Why should we care?

I am often irritated my senseless comments from classmates, but never before have been so disgusted and embarrassed by one comment. We should care that 64 years ago our nation was attacked because just 4 years ago we saw that type of mass destruction and devastation in New York City. More than anything I was disgusted with that one student because he too lived through 9/11 and should have grasped the seriousness of such an attack. We are our history. What has happened is part of our lives. Our duty to history is to remember the events that define a nation. We are to learn from them. We are to tell our children of their significance. And when one very well-meaning professor stands up in front of a college class on a day that could have spent reviewing for a final to tell that class about Pearl Harbor, it must be important, not just to him, but important to us being Americans.

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