07 December 2014

"A Date Which Will Live in Infamy"

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

"A date which will live in infamy" - Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt
December 8, 1941

December 7th marks the day in 1941 in which the US forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were attacked in a surprise raid by the Japanese. It is the act that sent the US into World War II. In a seven minute speech the following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt uttered the words that now so famously describe that day and within an hour of concluding that speech, the US declared war. The USS Arizona, pictured above, is a somber reminder of that day.

I was born a generation or so after that fateful day and the events of World War II. I am endlessly fascinated by that war though. I recently heard a comedian whose name escapes me talking about how a man's sudden interest in World War II is a sure sign of his advancing age. This fascination that I have, coupled with the fact that I can't remember the comedian's name, would suggest I'm getting older (I'm not getting older, just 'middler.')

One of the things I find most compelling about World War II is the collective power of those who went to war and those who remained at home supporting the war. Tom Brokaw has chronicled those lives beautifully in his aptly named series of books, "The Greatest Generation." The sense of purpose of was real as was the the sense of sacrifice that the nation collectively shared. Even greater was the collective commitment. I am in awe of what that generation did.

We are now two plus generations removed from those who fought in World War II. Their actions and efforts are largely relegated to some brief discussion in school and to books and mostly crappy Hollywood dramatizations (Pearl Harbor you have been called out). I hope we don't forget what these people did. Our track record of coming together as a nation hasn't been particularly awesome since World War II and that's a little scary.

We'd do well to be a little more like The Greatest Generation.

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