On this, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we remember those who lost their lives that day, and those who served their country in the Second World War. We pray for peace in our own day.
The photo above (from the National Archives) depicts sailors honoring those killed during the attack on the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe, Oahu. This ceremony likely took place on Memorial Day of 1942.
The official U.S. Naval History and Heritage site recounts that the attacks of December 7th, 1941 caught the United States by surprise.
By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan’s diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well.
More than 2400 American soldiers and sailors died in the attack and nearly 1300 more were wounded.
It is difficult for those of us who weren’t alive at the time of this attack to fully comprehend what it meant to those who were, and the mark it left on their memories. I know that December 7th was a solemn day for my mother throughout her life, as it was for other family members, particularly those who were serving at the time or who followed the call soon thereafter.
I find myself filled with feelings of sorrow and bewilderment today. I wonder what lessons we might draw from the events at Pearl Harbor and those that preceded and followed. I ponder how I might have reacted had I lived in my parents’ generation. I mourn the lost and ruined lives that are always the cost of war. I consider the grave personal responsibility to work for peace and justice in this world (for that is a task that cannot be entrusted to the politicians, the diplomats and the generals). I pray for those who are living with war on this December 7th.
Surely there must be a better way.