Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Definition of Courage


On the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack it is worth remembering the lives and futures that were laid down so the safety and liberty of our nation could be preserved. 

The USS Missouri standing guard over the USS Arizona.
I was privileged to travel to Pearl Harbor earlier this year and visit the Arizona Memorial and stand on the deck of the USS Missouri.  It stands guard over the site where the USS Arizona was sank, a sentinel standing watch over the brethren who are entombed beneath the water.  The men and women who died that day were heroes in every sense of the word.  They stood and fought as they were able, then died as courageous soldiers who can be held up as the definition of courage for the generation to follow. 

It is fitting to take the time to read President Roosevelt’s response:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our secretary of state a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack. 

The USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor, HI
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. 
I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese government also launched as attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Wake Island.

And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. . .

-          President Franklin D. Roosevelt

And thus began the greatest conflict of the previous century.  Let us remember their heroism and strive to be worthy of their sacrifice.

  - Mr. G 

Freedom Wall, National World War II Memorial. Photo credit: Rick Latoff

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