For many people in my generation, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, represent the “where were you when” moment in their lives. Many of our high schoolers were in elementary school when the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked. Everyone remembers that day and will, without doubt, never forget the tragedy that changed our country forever.
For generations of older Americans, that day was December 7, 1941 — the day that President Roosevelt famously said would “live in infamy.”
Today marks the anniversary of the Empire of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, a U.S. military installation in Hawaii. More than 2,400 Americans died that day as the Japanese Navy dropped bombs and shot torpedoes at the U.S. naval fleet. Four U.S. naval ships were sunk and nearly 200 aircraft were destroyed.
The U.S. loss in blood and treasure was staggering that day, but the larger effect of the attack on Pearl Harbor wouldn’t be felt until years later. The attack precipitated the United States direct involvement in World War II, the most far-reaching armed conflict in the history of the world.
On this day, and every day, it is important that we remember the great sacrifices made by so many for the privileges freedom provides.
For those of you interested in learning about Pearl Harbor through the experience of someone who was there, please check out this great feature (with video) from the Cleveland Plain Dealer online. Pay close attention to how the lives of everyone, not just soldiers, were turned upside down. Sacrifices were being made daily in the theater of war and at home.