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Pearl Harbor 71 years ago today

December 6, 2012
Estherville Daily News

It was a beautiful Sunday morning 71 years ago today when Japanese forces struck the American Naval base at Pearl Harbor, drawing America into World War II.

Until then, the US had fought the war by proxy, helping its ally Great Britain but staying out of the fray with Germany. It was the Japanese attack that brought us into the war, of course, a war in both the Pacific and in Europe.

What followed was a dark, dark time for America. President Franklin Roosevelt called it "a day that shall live in infamy" when he asked for a declaration of war the next day.

Incredibly, America had just crawled out of the depths of the Great Depression, the dust bowl and was just getting its footing when war broke out. It wouldn't be until May 1945 when victory came in Europe and later in August in the Pacific. The three months in between would see some of the bloodiest fighting of the war.

The induction stations were overfilled the next day after the Japanese attack. Between volunteers and the draft, the US was able to fill its ranks. Detroit retooled and former auto assembly lines made tanks, jeeps and a bomber an hour.

If something like Pearl Harbor happened again, could America respond?

Well, it did and we have.

More lives were lost on Sept. 11, 2001 than in the Pearl Harbor attack. This time, however, the victims were not our military but civilians.

Without a draft, America fought two wars - one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. And we brought down two despots reviled by their own people.

Today, America has the best and most efficient fighting force that it has ever had. Our intelligence has thwarted hundreds of would-be terrorist attacks that the public doesn't even know about. And we've bettered the prospect for peace throughout the world, even in Afghanistan where deranged, sick minds shoot 15-year-old girls in the head in the name of religion.

Today, it's the grandsons and great-grandsons of those who fought so valiantly in World War II that are carrying on the fight in Afghanistan. The only difference is that America is making peace not just for ourselves, but peace around the world.

And that should help all of us sleep better at night.



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