Pearl Harbor Day can't be forgotten

Posted: Friday, December 06, 2002

As time passes and the number of World War II veterans dwindles, it becomes easier to overlook that "date which will live in infamy" -- Dec. 7, 1941.

There have been numerous parallels drawn between the Pearl Harbor attack of 61 years ago and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including the surprise and shock of the attacks, the devastating losses and the resolve that followed and united the nation.

In the hustle and the bustle of the holiday season, we hope people will pause for a moment Saturday to remember Pearl Harbor Day. A brief history from the Department of Defense:

"The Japanese aircrews achieved complete surprise when they hit American ships and military installations on Oahu shortly before 8:00 a.m. ...

"When the attack ended shortly before 10:00 a.m., less than two hours after it began, the American forces had paid a fearful price. Twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged. ... Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged, the majority hit before they had a chance to take off. American dead numbered 2,403. That figure included 68 civilians. ... There were 1,178 military and civilian wounded. ...

"The Japanese success was overwhelming, but it was not complete. They failed to damage any American aircraft carriers, which by a stroke of luck, had been absent from the harbor. They neglected to damage the shoreside facilities at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base, which played an important role in the Allied victory in World War II. American technological skill raised and repaired all but three of the ships sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor. ...

"Most importantly, the shock and anger caused by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor united a divided nation and was translated into a wholehearted commitment to victory in World War II."

Philosopher and author George Santayana once wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

We would prefer not to repeat the horrors of World War II, but remembering the courage, strength and resolve of the nation after Pearl Harbor -- and repeating those -- would be a fitting tribute not only to those who died in World War II, but also to all those who had a role in building the United States into its "superpower" status.

As Pearl Harbor Day approaches, we again take the

opportunity to say thanks to all veterans, especially those

of World War II.

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