Pearl Harbor remembered through the lens of 9/11

December 7, 2009

To the thousands of men and women stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii sixty-eight years ago today, it was a Sunday morn not unlike any other. Sunrise at half past six arising over a partly cloudy sky with a moderate breeze lending to slight wind ripples on the water in the bay.

It was, by all measure, dawning as just another day in paradise.

But by the time that paradise sun shown down at high noon its rays could barely pierce the clouds of acrid black smoke billowing from hulks that just four hours earlier comprised the United States Pacific Fleet.

By the time that paradise sun had set, over 2,000 sailors, soldiers and airmen lay dead or dying and in the words of Admiral Yamamoto, the “sleeping giant” that was America one day prior, had not only been awakened, she was demanding revenge and revenge she damn well would have.

For the next 45 months America would unite as never before, wage war upon the forces of evil with unflinching resolve, and emerge from that day of devastation as the most powerful nation in the history of human civilization.

Almost sixty years post that “day of infamy”, another sunny morn would be rocked by explosions, become shrouded in billows of smoke, and see its sun set on thousands of dead innocents.

War had come to America again on the morning of September 11, 2001.

The setting of New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania may be thousands of miles and generations apart from Pearl Harbor, but the two are never the less forever joined in history by the sheer audacity, carnage, and evil the attacks represent.

That “greatest generation” ago, we resolved as a nation to defeat the evil that was our enemy wherever it be found, united in cause and country, from beginning to end.

Eight years ago we also resolved as a nation to defeat the evil that was our enemy.

That is where the similarity ends.

Sadly, we are no longer resolved in unison, united in cause and country.

Between the political correctness of the day, the partisan bickering in Congress, the political hacks in the White House, and quite frankly, a population more concerned with finding a robotic hamster under the Christmas tree than the cataclysmic threat posed by Muslim extremists or a nuclear Iran, it’s amazing that it’s not a minaret stead Crawford’s “Freedom” sitting atop the Capitol dome.

In less than four years we defeated not just Japan, but the entire Nazi war machine. Yet in twice the time it took to wage World War II, the site of the World Trade Center is still little more than a hole in the ground. A testament to the bickering that has become us.

The warning signs of Pearl Harbor were ignored and cost thousands of innocent lives on that fateful morn of December 7th.

The warning signs of Islamic extremism were ignored and cost the lives of thousands more innocents the morning of September 11th.

Though not on the scale of the great air, land, and sea battles of WWII, make no mistake, we are a nation at war today just as surely as we were those years post Pearl Harbor.

On the morning of 9/11 Islamic fundamentalists declared war on America in vicious and unprovoked attacks. Those same fundamentalists and their allies will remain at war with us until they are confronted and defeated accordingly.

On this day of remembrance we would do well to remember:

War is not won by forsaking one’s own culture for the sake of dialogue with, and tolerance of, a culture that has vowed to destroy you. War is won by having the resolve to identify, engage, and defeat that enemy wherever and whenever it is found.

Whether that be on the sands of ancient Persia, in the caves of Afghanistan, or in the ideology of extremist mosques across the world, Islamic fundamentalism must be confronted in unison and with a resolve unwavering.

It is not bigotry to stand for the right for all to worship free, it is not intolerant to call out the tyrant, and it is not wrong to stand up to evil. It is not only not wrong, it is our duty.

December 7, 1941 will forever be “a date which will live in infamy”.

Let us not dishonor the memory of those fallen by having this time’s footnote in history be known as: “when apathy lost the union”.

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