Pondering Dec. 7, 1941
The rat-a-tat-tat of the “Little Drummer Boy,” had that song been in existence as Christmas music played on radios in Pearl Harbor on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, would have been wiped out by the very real rat-a-tat-tat of machine guns on Japanese Zeros attacking the people, planes and ships at the U.S. naval base in Hawaii. The Empire of Japan had viciously declared war on America. (Germany and Italy declared war on us just days later.)
Just 17 days before that date which still lives in infamy, we had expressed our gratitude on Thanksgiving Day. (The last time it was celebrated on the third Thursday in November.) It would take four years, as sung in a 1943 chart-topping song, for “the lights to come on again all over the world.” The world would never be the same again. The shock for those of us not alive or of age at that time must have been like what we experienced as a nation with the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
The leaders of Japan and Germany and Italy would learn over the next four years what our motto – “Don’t tread on me” – really meant. Their nations were destroyed and millions died. World War I was believed to be “the war to end all wars,” but instead it was the prelude to another even more terrible conflict, World War II. If there ever is a World War III – with nuclear weapons – it will likely be the war to end all worlds.
I hope that all of us – of many generations – pause on Dec. 7 to not only remember what happened to our country – and to the world – on that day 75 years ago, but also what it still means today with the great sacrifices made to restore and maintain world peace. We were the only nation standing strong in a world of historic ruin. We led the way in winning and then led the way in reconstruction – Germany and Japan, along with most of the other countries, now thrive in peace. Other countries would still do us harm as do chains of terrorists.
As we mourn all those who gave so much in winning WWII, let those who wish us ill know that what we did then we can do even better now.
Mel Maurer lives in Westlake.