Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: Yesterday, December 7th, 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… But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory….
I was not alive to hear those words but I know how rightly they ring true even today in how we, as a nation, still exist. We do not give up. We do not give in. We do not turn the other cheek in the threat of any danger.
What time and propaganda have buried were the millions of anti-war protests from isolationists eager to protect the nation from the elements of the outside socially, economically and politically from that era because of the fears and ills of the time, the previous experiences and our own socio-economic identity at the time. There was a longing after the scars of war, immigration, economic collapse, industrialization and mechanization toward a strong desire of insulation.
What we remember from that era now is a war started in the land of our forefathers under the premise of xenophobia, genocide and pure, unadulterated hatred masked in a guise of nationalism, patriotism, exceptionalism and socio-political values was the valiant nature for which we eventually guided a victory with our allies against the atrocities of such an abhorred evil.
Has the world changed that much in 70 years? Have we?
This isn’t going to be a post looking back at the rights or wrongs, nor are they ones which I wish to debate on such a hallowed day.
Rather, this is about looking back on a generation that for many are encapsulated only in history books and family folklore. It is about my grandparents and great-grandparents who were at the forefront of that era’s pains, who listened to Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech on transistor radios with horror or read the transcripts in the paper with tears streaming down their cheeks. This is about young men who’s fathers, uncles, grandparents or even older brothers died in the WWI, many of whose families were probably refugees in some way from European conflict to begin with and understood the pain all-too-well. It is in memory of those who gave their lives, not just their physical ones but their social, their economic… gave their families, their futures, their wants… for the “good of the nation.” Those who truly sacrificed for the good of the many anything and everything that had and could ever want and mostly did it without complaint, without second thought and with pride and the desire to make a difference truly for the good of the many.
This is about my grandfather and his brothers and father and bothers and their generations. This is about me sitting her able to type this because history worked out on “our side” meaning no more than a blood line if nothing else to me at this point.
Like I said, I cannot sit here and comprehend what that day, or what that war even meant… and this is coming from someone who was in the shadow of the WTC attack in NYC in 2001 and saw portions of my own life at the time flash in my mind and fully experienced ever type of element since then in the aftermath short of deploying to the warzone itself.
Whatever happened on that island territory in the moments and days after the attack, the emotions that reverberated throughout the nation after it and the impact that affected us for 45 years after it are not ones that I can fully understand. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and when the Coupe d’entant of the Soviet Union occurred in 1991 were the first times I can remember actually beginning to understand the gravity of the affects of WWII were and what the attack of Pearl Harbor were.
70 years later we as a nation are here and when we should be coming together moving toward the diamond anniversary of one of the biggest and most seminal moments of our nation’s brief existence we’re no better off than we were only a few months ago at the ten year anniversary of the only event that could possible attempt to even eclipse what The Day of Infamy was.
We should be close than what we are and in honor of our own families, in honor of our own national sacrifices, in honor of our own founding ideals we aught to be. As I take the time to remember the fallen from Pearl Harbor, from the ships attacked from Guan and the Phillipeans, from Midway and Wake, from Hong Kong and Malaya, and from every point from the mid-Pacific to the San Fransisco harbor as part of that act of war today I prepare moments of silence for each and open a special place in my heart for my grandfather and his sacrifices and my grandmother and her unabated love and support and both their families for their devotion that allows me to be here today. And, with that, I sincerely keep next to that place one for the thousands who died fighting and millions who fell otherwise believing in and defending our ‘way of life.’ One I am thankful they did and am forever indebted in them to.