Dec. 7, 1941: The date of devastation to the U.S. naval fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor is remembered as an unprovoked attack by Japanese bombers and fighter planes that left a scene of exploding, burning, smoking, sinking ships and wounded and dying American military peace-time enlisted service personnel.
The immediate response of a declaration of war on Japan by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt triggered a swift change in our country's line of manufactured products. Our automobile manufacturers converted factories to producing war machines such as tanks, jeeps, personnel carriers and guns. Our trained personnel such as engineers joined the defense movement improving design and speed of fighter planes and bombers.
Japan had awakened a sleeping giant. Our country's young able-bodied men swarmed to enlistment stations to join our military in defense of our nation, while wives and girlfriends filled the places vacated by iron workers, assembly line technicians and clerks. Our country came together to the defense of our families, homes and freedoms. Our citizens subjected themselves to rationing critical staples such as sugar, shoes, tires and gasoline to ensure sufficient supplies to our military. Our simultaneous declaration of war on Germany demanded our defense forces on two fronts requiring our greatest defensive efforts against Japan on the East and Germany on the West.
We remember our victory in World War II as our birth in the role of a "free world" superpower. We have always defended our freedoms and way of life and given aid to those governments who are trying to establish a democratic society. We are blessed by still having some of our WWII veterans among us who defended our very existence as a nation and free people.
We have a wealth of experience we have gained from our years of defending our nation against many forms of aggression. We know we are a strong liberty-loving people with means to defeat terrorists who would try to destroy our democratic form of government -- "one nation under God with liberty and justice for all."
God bless America.
Herb Stettler is the chaplain of VFW Post 10046 in Soldotna.
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