Your Commander clearly remembers just where he was and specifically what he was doing 68 years ago. It was a Sunday morning and I was lying on the floor of our living room in our 3rd floor walk up apartment on the south side of Chicago. I was 10 years old and was reading the comic section of “The Chicago Tribune.” Our floor model Philco radio was tuned to “Hawaii Calls,” a popular program, which broadcast from a beach front location in Honolulu. My Dad was out getting our car washed, and my Mom was preparing Sunday Dinner.
When the Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor from their naval carriers off the coast of Hawaii, it was immediately reported on the radio and my Mom and I immediately knew that my Dad would be involved because he was a Captain in the Illinois Army National National Guard’s 33rd Infantry Division. Dad quickly returned and we all sat around the radio listening to all the sad details of death and destruction occurring to the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and the planes at Hickam Field.
Dad, although called for service at age 51, failed his vision test and did remain home with us. Until his last breath he was upset that he was unable to be a direct part of the war effort. He was, however, an executive in the steel business and probably had a larger effect on the war than he ever imagined.
The day after the attack President Franklin D. Roosevelt went before a joint session of Congress, and said, “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.” War was declared immediately. In addition, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack, summed up the result of the Pearl Harbor assault, “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant and instilled in him a terrible resolve.” Little did he know his words would be so prophetic.
I feel it is my duty to remind those who do not directly remember the events of December 7, 1941. The results of that attack changed the world as was known at the time. September 11, 2001 has had a comparable effect, attacking civilians in a city, not military personnel on a base, and the free world again felt a sea change.
I suggest that you take a moment when you read this to honor the veterans who have served this country since its inception 233 years ago and those who are serving today. They represent everything our democracy was founded upon.