BY JEFF OLSON –
Year after year, many of us probably remember dates from America’s history which are very significant, some of which have altered the course of history. One such date I include in this column every year. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese empire launched a surprise and unprovoked attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor and the Army Air Corps Base at Hickam Field, Hawaii. The attack commenced at about 7:50 am and by morning’s end there were approximately 2,400 people dead and 1,300 wounded, with 19 ships and more than 300 airplanes destroyed or damaged. These losses were devastating, dealing a huge blow to America’s Pacific fleet and air power. Fortunately, our aircraft carriers were not at Pearl Harbor. They would sail to fight another day, and that day and many more would come, first with the Doolittle bombing raid on Tokyo the following April and then in June when the American carriers would hand the much larger Japanese naval force a stunning and decisive defeat in the Battle of Midway.
The attack on Pearl Harbor unified America as she had rarely (if ever) been, before or since. World War II was the most costly war in history; in lives, destruction, and far-reaching consequences. America’s “Greatest Generation” fought World War II on the combat front and home front, and it took commitment and sacrifice on both to achieve victory – a victory which is one reason I have the freedom to write this and you to read it on this day. However, the war was not won by America alone. It also took strong and decisive leadership and resolve by other nations, especially Great Britain which had been in the war for several years prior to America’s entrance and for a while stood alone against the Nazis war machine. As Winston Churchill stated during some of Great Britain’s darkest hours: “You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.”
Ours may not be the greatest generations, but we must be great enough to make our own commitments and sacrifices needed on all fronts to preserve a free America; a nation which needs to return to our Christian roots and heritage and rediscover a unity based on those principles of truth and freedom which we still have in common. Remembering such events as Pearl Harbor and 911 is always important because it serves as a reminder of the cost of our freedom and how fragile and vulnerable to extinction it is in the absence of vigilence from each generation.
I would like to close with a brief excerpt from President Franklin Roosevelt’s address to Congress in the House Chamber on December 8, 1941. “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory…. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.”