Perhaps one reason why the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington were so traumatic for Americans was because they triggered Pearl Harbor flashbacks for those of us old enough to remember what happened 70 years ago today, on December 7, 1941.
The next day, Dec, 8, 1941, (to quote President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his emergency address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, (you can see it by clicking the link), “…December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
In 1940, the U.S. population was about 142 million and today it is 312 million. That means more than 170 million Americans have no memory of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, or of the national shock, fear and panic that it produced.
An article in Today’s New York Times recounts a story told by Harry R. Karr, one of the aged directors of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. “I was talking in a school two years ago, and I was being introduced by a male teacher, and he said, ‘Mr. Kerr will be talking about Pearl Harbor,’ ” said Mr. Kerr. “And one of these little girls said, ‘Pearl Harbor? Who is she?’ “Can you imagine?” he said.
Given the terrible job done by U.S. public schools in failing to teach U.S. history, I don’t doubt that relatively few young Americans have any knowledge about what was one of the momentous events in U.S. history.
Day of Infamy
The anniversary of the Japanese Imperial Military attack on Pearl Harbor, on a peaceful Sunday morning in December 1941, though now a matter of history, has important lessons for Americans living today.
Without war against Japan, any conflict with Germany conceivably could have been limited. But was the sudden attack a surprise to Roosevelt? Was the deliberate attack “utterly unprovoked” as Secretary of State Cordell Hull said it was?
In an interesting column my old friend Pat Buchanan recommends reading a newly published book entitled Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s History of the Second World War in which there is ample proof (as if more was needed) that President Roosevelt knew the Japanese attack was coming and purposely failed to alert the U.S. Army and Navy commanders in Hawaii. At the time, the commanding U.S. Army and Navy officials in Hawaii were made the scapegoats and blamed by President Roosevelt for not being prepared.
Another new book is entitled The Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable by George Victor and published by Potomac Books Inc. of Washington, D.C. The truth seems to be that wanted America to go to war. For more on this, see one of the best books ever written on Roosevelt, John T. Flynn’s A President Who Will Live in Infamy.
The American Way of Lies
Lying by our national “leaders” has become an established and sickening way of political life in America. I know from my studies that Americans have always been justifiably skeptical of its politicians and its presidents, fortunately, but perhaps not enough.
That event should remind us that even now a majority of Americans have come to believe that government in general — and presidents in particular — lie to us as a matter of course — even as these politicians protest that they are telling the truth.
By now most can agree on Ronald Reagan’s wry observation that the way in which we can tell if a politician is lying is when we see his or her lips moving.
We can only pray that those thousands who died at Pearl Harbor, and those millions who died in the wars that followed, may rest in peace. They died for us and for our freedom.
I only wish that those honored dead could have had the satisfaction of knowing that their offering of the supreme sacrifice had produced a better outcome than today’s politicians provide for America.
That’s the way that it looks from here,
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