A date that still lives in infamy

77 years ago, a date that still lives in infamy

By Ethel C. Fenig
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On this day 77 years ago, Japan launched a surprise attack against a U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor in the then-American territory of Hawaii.  Over 2,400 Americans were killed, over 1,000  wounded on that day.  The countries were not at war at the time.  The next day, the U.S. Congress declared war against Japan.  Speaking to a joint session of Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) called the day of the attack “a date which will live in infamy.”  Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the U.S.; the U.S. then declared war against Germany and Italy.  Thus did the U.S. enter into what was later called World War ll, which had been raging in Europe and elsewhere for over two years.

The shock of the attack, with not even a trigger warning, to use a modern term, did not send young people then to scurry to safe spaces, as many do today at the first sign of distress, such as, oh, say, their preferred candidate not winning the presidency or hearing ideas that upset them.  Enduring hard times during the Depression years preceding that attack, people of all ages rushed to sign up for the military.

One of them was George H.W. Bush.  Six months after Pearl Harbor, in June 1942, he celebrated graduating high school and his 18th birthday by enlisting in the U.S. Navy.  A year later, three days before his 19th birthday, he became an ensign and one of the youngest Naval aviators.  Surviving the horrors of years of war – no safe spaces for him – he married, completed college, and went on to live a life of service to his country, love for his family.

It is hauntingly symbolic that Bush passed away just a few days before another Pearl Harbor anniversary was buried the day prior.  Another veteran of that terrible war, former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole (R), now 95, who was severely injured during that same brutal war but also later led a productive life, struggled to stand in respect at Bush’s casket.

They, and millions like them, rushed to danger to protect us all.  Most are gone now; their valor endures.

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