Remembering Pearl Harbor
Today is a very important day in American history, particularly American military history. December 7, 2012, is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Seventy-one years ago, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor murdering thousands of men, women, and children, military and civilian alike. It was devastating and sad and to this day still affects us. Next to 9/11, this attack is one that we hold close to our hearts.
Remembrance days provide us all an opportunity to reflect on what happened in the past and also consider what is happening in our present. We remember the sacrifices of others as well as the innocent lives affected by the choices of terrorists. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day does all that.
President Barack Obama released a proclamation today paying “solemn tribute to America’s sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice at Oahu.” He further proclaimed that today’s remembrance “reaffirm[s] that their legacy will always burn bright—whether in the memory of those who knew them, the spirit of service that guides our men and women in uniform today, or the heart of the country they kept strong and free.” Regardless of our political leanings, or what we think of President Obama, here we see the power of words and how they invoke positive emotions and actions.
As I read these words, I felt pride, happiness, and faith. In the memory of an event that was so sad, so devastating, so awful, it is nice to have a day where we remember the beauty of Americans. When we have an experience like this, Americans jump to action and help each other. In 1995, when Oklahoma City experienced that terrible home-grown terrorism, other Americans across the nation came to the aid of Oklahomans. In 2001, when religious terrorists attacked New York City, we all banded together to help. When a hurricane damages and destroys cities, Americans send food, clothes, goods, and money. And when we are attacked, we stand up and fight back.
On this day of remembrance, we should not forget those who lost their lives, but we also should focus on what is so incredible about being American. We need to honor each other and our sacrifices. We need to send love, support, and strength to each other. We need to forget our political, religious, and cultural differences, and take just a moment, just a single day, to remember what we can do when we work together.
We all want to live in a world where we do not have to have days of remembrance, a world that is peaceful, a world without violence. Perhaps that is not possible, but days like today, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we can take time to thank our pasts, those who sacrificed, those who continue to protect, and those who demand peace.
Today, instead of being contrary, let us all take time to remember the instances that bind us. Let us all also consider our present experiences. And let us contemplate our futures. Days of remembrance are not just about what happened then, but how we will improve now.
Thank you to all who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. Thank you to all who fought and continue to fight for peace, freedom, love, and acceptance. Thank you to us all who come together in moments of crisis as well as times of peace.
Image Credit: Alexander Smulskiy / Shutterstock