World War II

Remember Pearl Harbor?

... why should I, or anyone?

by John Averell

I was at the threshold of my seventh birthday when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Really, I don't remember that day. We always went to church, so I'm sure there was a lot of talk. It wasn't until the next day when I rode to first grade in a car with older students that I remember them saying that we were at war now.

I suspect I'm at the borderline age. Younger than I, you have no personal memory of Pearl Harbor. Older, you have at least some memories. Why should the memory of that specific event be emphasized to later generations, most of whom weren't even alive during World War II?

I believe that Pearl Harbor was a gateway event, the entrance to hell for so many soldiers and citizens.

"Remember the Maine" was the phrase that rallied America into the Spanish-American War. The event was the sinking of an American ship. The war was short, and in the scale of modern warfare, not too bloody.

"Remember the Lusitania" was the trigger event that brought America into World War I, the sinking of a ship again. This time, the Great War was short for America, but terribly bloody for all participants.

"Remember Pearl Harbor" was specifically the phrase that was said and sung everywhere, again rallying us around World War II.

"Remember 9/11", was the phrase that has focused America on the terrorist attacks, and ultimately served as the justification for the Iraq war.

One can argue the "rightness" of a specific war, or war in general. We seem to need some central event to bring the general population in support of actually making the decision to sacrifice life, resources, and time.

We should remember these events, ponder whether they justify the wars that followed, rehearse the details of history to each generation, because we surely will be confronted with some seminal event in the future when we will be asked to "go to war" because we have to "Remember ...."

December 7, 2007

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