To a generation of younger people, regularly marking the anniversary of a horrific attack on the United States could be perceived as gruesome and unnecessary.
Which is all the more reason to regularly mark the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Hawaiian naval base Pearl Harbor. Japanese bombed the base on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. The bombing led to the United States' entry into World War II.
All eight battleships in the harbor were damaged, along with three cruisers and three destroyers. There were 402 aircraft in Hawaii, and 188 of them were destroyed and another 159 were damaged. A total of 2,403 Americans were killed and another 1,178 were injured.
Just as it happened 60 years later, when a country found a sad but determined unity after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York's Twin Towers and on the Pentagon, Americans united in 1941. At that time, isolationism was more widespread in this country than it is now. The United States fought wars across two oceans.
The entirety of the aftermath of Pearl Harbor remains a lesson to us all, a lesson that needs to be repeated. That's one reason to ponder what surrounded Pearl Harbor on a regular basis. While the country united to arm and man itself to fight battles around the globe, at home, Japanese-Americans were forced from their homes and put into internment camps. That's far from the United States' finest hour.
The numbers of the Greatest Generation – those who fought abroad and worked on the war effort domestically – continue to thin. Remembering the sacrifices they made and the battles they won to help give us the world we have today is vital, both historically and looking ahead. Few of us fully understand the sacrifices that have to be made the way they were made during that world-changing era. Keeping the memory of those voices alive is critical.
Each new generation had the responsibility of recognizing and remembering the gifts of generosity given by the generation before. What gift is more precious than life, either the giving of it or the interruption of time in order to accomplish what needed to be done.
While it's sometimes difficult to remember now, we remain a united nation. Let's remember and honor the efforts made by that greatest generation, and let's be sure those who follow will remember as well.