Stephanie Pearce: Remembering Pearl Harbor Day
December 13, 2015
On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. For those of you who may not know the significance of this, Pearl Harbor is a U.S. military base located in Honolulu, Hawaii on the island of Oahu. A total of 2,403 victims were killed. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt said this day was "A date which will live in infamy."
The remembrance Pearl Harbor was a week ago, I was saddened to see hardly a mention of this day was anywhere last week. On Veterans Day and Memorial Day, my Facebook feed is flooded with memes and messages honoring our veterans. On Sept. 11, the media, Facebook and everywhere else is flooded with honoring the fallen from that day. Then I thought, what if 74 years from now there was hardly a mention of Sept. 11?
We felt the pain 9-11, most of us remembering exactly where we were, what we were doing and all the actions we took that day. I'm sure it's exactly the same for those who were touched by Pearl Harbor. Dec. 7 was a turning point for the U.S. in World War II. It was a pivotal day in our history. Yet, we barely remember it.
A couple of years ago, I was in a meeting on Pearl Harbor Day. Someone in the room asked if anyone knew the significance of the date and the majority of us said Pearl Harbor Day. Then a participant said it was so long ago that it really doesn't impact us today. So much for this guy thinking this day was a day of infamy. Infamy, according to the dictionary, is "a state of being well known for some bad quality or deed; an evil or wicked act." Winston Churchill once said, "Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it."
My heart ached in that moment. How many people feel like that man does? What if when I'm old, some young man says that Sept. 11 held no significance for them? A panel of experts in military, domestic and strategic intelligence met on Dec. 7, 2011 to discuss Pearl Harbor and the lessons the U.S. learned from that attack. Philip Zelikow, former chairman of the 9-11 commission said, "The great tragedy of 9-11 is that the system learned from Pearl Harbor broke down. We had learned the craft of warning, but didn't apply the lesson." Basically, Pearl Harbor has significance for us today.
More than 24,000 lives — with countless family and friends — were affected by loss.
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Back in 1941, there was no social media like we have to spread the news of this attack, mostly newspapers and radio. Yet, the shock could still be felt throughout our country. Shouldn't we remember still? We need to not only remember, but to continue to learn from it.