Our View: Recalling the day that 'will live in infamy'

December 6, 2013 

A great many of us will be out Christmas shopping today, perhaps picking a tree or sneaking away to buy some special gift. Hopefully, we’ll take a moment to consider the events that occurred 72 years ago.

This is the anniversary of the day Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, a sneak attack meant to intimidate and demoralize a nation often seen as self-absorbed and distant from world affairs. It was, in the unforgettable words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “a date which will live in infamy.”

There are, unfortunately, fewer and fewer people among us who actually recall that day. Most of us have read about it or we’ve seen the movies. But books and movies and Internet descriptions can’t convey the sense of shock, despair, sorrow, anger and resolve that Americans felt that day.

There were no cellphones, no Internet, no 24/7 television. Many of those who had loved ones stationed in what had been a paradise waited days if not weeks to learn their fates.

The reaction was immediate, nonetheless. We declared war on Japan a day later.

Many Americans became fearful. Eventually, that fear allowed even good people to condone the confinement of their neighbors who were of Japanese descent. But that’s another type of infamy that we must bear.

As we busy ourselves in preparation for one of the most joyous holidays, we should remember, even if only for a few moments, that on this day 72 years ago 2,385 Americans lost their lives in horrible ways. Hundreds performed acts of incredible valor, thousands rushed to the aid of their fallen countrymen and millions more resolved to defend their nation and our way of life at all costs. We can be glad they did.

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