Pearl Harbor – Remember the Past to Prevent the Future

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. December 7, 1941, was what President Roosevelt described as “a day that will live in infamy.” The attack took the nation by surprise, even though it should not have done so, as the intelligence agencies were hearing bits and pieces of “chatter” all along. Appeasement had lulled us to sleep…and that sleep cost thousands of lives.

“I fear that we have awakened a sleeping giant , and filled him with a terrible resolve.” Admiral Yamamoto

Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto had traveled and studied  in the United States, and he knew what power lay beneath the genteel exterior of America. As the Japanese planes pounded Hickam Airfield and the ships in Pearl Harbor on December 7, he knew that the orders he had just given could spell the doom of his nation. He didn’t know how or when, but it is likely, he knew.

pearl harbor
Battleship USS West Virginia sunk and burning at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. In background is the battleship USS Tennessee.

The Greatest Generation

The “sleeping giant”  so feared by Admiral Yamamoto was a generation of Americans that knew what failure meant. They saw clearly what would happen if they did not stop the totalitarian regimes of Nazi Germany and Japan. They fought with resolve, just as the admiral feared.

Those men of the Greatest Generation lived through unspeakable horror, as war always brings. Every war is different, yet the same. That day at Pearl Harbor, 2,403 young men died, and another 1,178 were wounded. Their screams left indelible marks on the psyche of those who survived.

One friend, Col. Nick Gaynos,  who passed last year at the age of 96, told me that he and a Kamikaze pilot’s eyes met as he ran along the beach in an attempt to avoid the strafing.  Suddenly a piece of shrapnel whizzed by his head – hot, terrifying – and landed in the sand near him. He carried that piece of shrapnel with him for the rest of his life as a reminder of that day. He rarely spoke of the Pearl Harbor attack again, except at the end of his life.


From the battles at Tarawa to the beaches of Normandy, it is estimated that well over 400,000 American Servicemen were killed in WWII. In all, nearly 60 million people of all the nations were killed.

Time and memory lapses- that was then, this is now

The Pearl Harbor Day remembrance in Hawaii this year is called “Pathway to Reconciliation: From Engagement to Peace.” It will focus on rebuilding the relationship to Japan. It’s an honorable idea. Japan is no longer the evil empire of yesteryear, and is now a valued ally.

Most countries view America as soft and cowardly. The memories of World War II and its “Greatest Generation” have faded into the distance. Teachers with liberal views now tell our children how racist and evil America has been throughout our history. They indoctrinate the children with “white guilt” to the exclusion of the facts.

They are taught appeasement and “inclusiveness” in spite of the danger. The result is that now, when our nation is truly at war with an Islamic ideology that wants to destroy us, people are embracing that ideology as good. They have managed to reduce or destroy the resolve of the masses…or have they?

Are we now “soft?”

The anger and rage I see on the internet every day tells me that if push comes to shove, the day may come again soon when America as the “sleeping giant” will arise once again. Will we? Will we dump our opinions and collective hatreds to united against the ideologies that seek to destroy us? Or are we truly “soft” as much of the world believes?

“The Russian soldier is more courageous and patient than the American soldier. Our battle with the United States is easy compared with the battles in which we engaged in Afghanistan.” Osama bin Laden

What do you say? Remember Pearl Harbor. Remember 9-11. Remember San Bernardino. Radical Islamists brought the fight to us on our soil – don’t let their view of America’s cowardice live.


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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. All of her posts on Conservative Firing Line are also posted on Uncle Sam's.

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