Today marks the 70th anniversary of the “date which will live in infamy.” Each year on December 7th Americans are encouraged to reflect upon the deadly Japanese offensive attack on Pearl Harbor and to hold in memory the thousands who were killed or injured. The date is also significant and widely held as the flash point plunging the United States into World War II.
I wonder if school-aged children are brought to this attention the way that I was as a child. Does a 70th anniversary feel like ancient history to freshly minted elementary school teachers? I think it’s possible that September 11, 2001 has eclipsed December 7th for some, but I was raised with sharp attention to the significance of Pearl Harbor, the American war effort from citizens at home as well as abroad, and the scale and scope of such a terrible war.
A few facts we might remember today:
- 2,388 Americans died in the attack
- 1,178 Americans were wounded
- 21 American ships were sunk or damaged
- 323 American aircrafts were destroyed or damaged
- 1,177 Americans involved in the attack were serving on the USS Arizona
- 333 servicemen serving on the USS Arizona survived the attack
In May of this year the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated approximately 2,079,000 American veterans still living, with the median age of WWII survivors at 88 years old. It won’t be long before the survivors will no longer be living witnesses to tell the story. I think it’s great that thanks to major Hollywood influence from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg younger generations have been educated through film –Band of Brothers, The Pacific—with the hope that passing generations won’t forget both the sacrifice and significance of the lives that were given to make a difference in the outcome of such a horrendous war.
I hope that wherever you are today you might spend a few moments in solemn reflection.
I know I will.