A quiet Sunday morning in paradise. Balmy and breezy. The entire world seemed so far away; all the anguish, the uncertainty, the conflict. But here, here it is different. Deep blue ocean in every direction. There’s no depression here, no soup lines, no stock market crashes, just….. peace.
The generation we have come to know as the “greatest” saw that fleeting peace washed away with the low ominous buzz of the Japanese fleet. Wave after wave of Zeros mercilessly pounded their targets, burning both flesh and metal into cinder. Panic gripped those who were trained not to panic – there was no training scenario that would prepare any of these men and women for a situation so unthinkable.
December 7, 1941
November 22, 1963
September 11, 2001
Among others, these are dates that stand out in the memory of every American over the age of about 5 at the time of their occurrences. Days of infamy.
Yet it was this day, 70 years ago and half a world away that shoved America and the rest of the world into an era that historians have and will continue to mark as a worldwide turning point.
Seventy years. The Bible speaks of 70 years as the portion of life for a man (a strong man, 80). It took little over 70 years for the grandest of totalitarian experiments, the Soviet Union, to rise, develop, prosper, challenge and eventually falter. It was approximately years from the 1st coming of a long prophesied Messiah in a lowly manger to the seemingly permanent disbandment of that’s Messiah’s chosen people, who only recently were pulled from the ash heap of history to become a nation once again.
America – a nation that, already had been put to the canvas by a depression, had spent the next years avoiding the “10 count” only to have the enemy deliver a knockdown blow with such force, that most would have stayed down and accepted defeat.
But America refused to throw in the towel. In fact, she responded to the clarion call with what strength she had left. Soon fighting on 2 fronts, it was the determination of a nation that refused to see the light of liberty doused by the onslaught of evil. We fought, we built, we tore down, we survived, we thrived…. We won.
Our enemies, then and now, saw us (see us) as weak because of our liberty, but over the past 70 years, America has proven to be its strongest when we embrace those liberties. Rather than it be a dividing force, it unifies us when virtually all other issues divide us and any attempt to take those liberties away only serves to ground us in who we truly are – an exceptional country.
Considering what has transpired over the decades since that horrific morning at Pearl, one has to ask, what would the world be like if America had stayed down?
What country would have developed the first atomic bomb? Would it have been used to preserve peace or to conquer a globe? What about the jet engine? The first steps into the “final frontier”? How many countries would be long since dust had our flame been extinguished? Those afore mentioned people, chosen of God? Would there be a coalition of nations whose mission (at least then) was not to conquer the world, but to unite it?
Many who were alive during that period of test and triumph (as well as those who came along after) see the destruction at Pearl and wish it wouldn’t have happened. And as no amount of hoping would ever change what is set in history, one has to wonder if we could have survived the inevitable heartbreaks that life continued to hand to us? Could we have survived the slaying of a national leader in the height of a cold war just waiting to heat up without the brand of Pearl Harbor still fresh in our memory? Would 19 men with box cutters been successful at toppling a nation, much less the Trade Towers, without the image of the USS Arizona in her final resting place below the sea?
For most of the 7 billion people on Terra Firma, tomorrow will simply be…. Wednesday. But for Americans, the day of infamy should be much more than just another time to stop briefly to remember an event of mass human tragedy. For the 4% of us blessed to live in this land (as well as most of the other 7 billion), Pearl Harbor Day should be a day to celebrate liberty – as much or even more so than on Independence Day. July 4th may be the day we declared liberty, but December 7, 1941 was the day we stood up to defend it.