Today is Pearl Harbor Day. This will not be a typical looking back seventy-five years to the sneak attack upon the US, which ultimately brought us into World War II, but a look forward. Most of my generation remember Pearl Harbor from the stories we heard from those who were there. The previous generation lived it. The next generation? Who knows?
Many of us have seen, with nervous laughter, Jay Leno's Man on the Street, or Watter's World, where young adults and college students are asked very simple questions about historical events that most of my generation learned in grade school. Those interviewed appear clueless, sometimes not able to locate the founding of our country or the Civil War within a century of when they actually happened.
"Remember the Alamo!"
"Remember the Maine!"
"Remember Pearl Harbor!"
Each of those sayings stirred the soul of a generation at one time or another. Some fade more quickly than others. The veterans who served at Pearl the day of the attack are fewer in number every year. Soon, the last of them will be gone. Who will remember Pearl Harbor? Even our own president famously showed his own ignorance of the day, when he referred to Japan "dropping the bomb" on Pearl Harbor. Only twice in human history has a piece of ordinance been significant enough to be referred to in the singular, Those were the two atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. "The Bomb" is atomic. The bombs (plural) used on Pearl were conventional, not atomic. Details!
I suppose we could jump on the bandwagon and blame our constantly declining public education. Despite the bleating on the Left, throwing more money at the problem is not the solution, after trying it for decades.
So, what are we left with? An annual documentary or two on public television? A declining number of human interest features as we watch a declining number of veterans return to Pearl for an anniversary remembrance? It's unfortunate, but people who can't name even three Founding Fathers can name a half a dozen Kardashians. 54-40 or fight? Tippecanoe and Tyler, too? "From which country did we declare our independence"??? Might as well be speaking Klingon! (No. A few might actually understand Klingon!)
I will remember Pearl Harbor as a significant turning point in American and world history for as long as I live. The tragic loss of life and the motivation it provided to the US to enter the war and take leadership of an alliance against the axis of evil of its day, teaches us lessons that ought not be forgotten. Unless, of course, they're never learned in the first place.
Will this generation learn from the lessons of history? Or are they doomed to repeat them?
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