Victory at Pearl Harbor…

(This was orginally posted last year.)

The significance of December 7, 1941 is something that most of our parents do not need to be reminded about. It was a shocking, indelible moment for them, much like September 11, 2001 was for another generation of Americans. I don’t want to spend time here comparing those two disastrous attacks: one by a hostile state, the other by a handful of extremists. That’s for another time, another post.

This is a day of remembrance.

There are not many veterans of Pearl Harbor still with us. Not many left who saw the Japanese planes diving out of the sky, felt the concussions as great battleships shuddered, burned, and sank. Not many left who can stand on the observation deck of the USS Arizona Memorial, gaze at that sunken iron tomb and say, “I knew a guy who went down with that ship.”

On December 7th, we remember what was lost at Pearl Harbor: the lives, the ships, the planes – our national innocence.

But on this day, we should also remember the miracle of Pearl Harbor: the incredible effort that raised so many of those ships from the bottom of the harbor, patched them up – and sent them back into the fight. Only three of the ships that were bombed in Pearl Harbor on that day of infamy were forever lost to the fleet.

And of the 30 ships in the Japanese fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor, only one survived the war without being sunk.

The dynamism, optimism and resolve displayed by those military crewmen and civilians who, within months, raised and repaired the devastated wreckage of Pearl Harbor are qualities that Americans must call on once again to overcome our national challenges. Would that our leaders would spend less time sowing the fear of future attacks – and more time appealing to the better angels of our national identity.

“Can do” was the unofficial motto of the Seabees, the legendary Navy outfit that led the reconstruction effort at Pearl Harbor.

Where’s that American “Can do” spirit now?

P.S. Click here for a WWII-era Pearl Harbor song I found online. It may seem a bit too upbeat at first, but in the context of our ultimate victory at Pearl Harbor, it’s not too bouncy after all. It’s got that confidence and “Can do” spirit.


Filed under History

4 responses to “Victory at Pearl Harbor…

  1. Colorado Mom

    How well I remember. I was in grade school. My father sent my brother next door (where I was playing with some neighbor kids) to tell me I had to come home and listen to the President on the radio. Later, my father who was in the service during WWI, volunteered for the Red Cross during WWII, driving to homes of mostly farm families, delivering those sad telegrams to families who lost loved ones.

  2. Elda

    Against the background of Dec. 7, 1941 — the “dynamism, optimism and resolved” of that American spirit that is uniquely American —, I don’t recognize Dec. 7, 2011, its dysfunctional government and the general greed, ignorance and lack of good will in today’s American society. Much has changed since then, but I’m still an optimist; I want to believe in the strength of the American character and its values which I came to learn and appreciate.

  3. that was a sad time for all of us.

    • yeah its sure is ,in one way ;on the other hand the WWI would not have come to an end if the Japanees din’t attack the P’harbour and the Americans did not drop atom bombs over Hirosima and Nagasaki on 6th nd 9th of august 1945

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