As I posted several years back, remembering Pearl Harbor was drilled into me over the years by a friend of my father’s. He had been a navy lieutenant stationed there when the Japanese attacked in 1941.
His first reminder came as a phone call on December 7th, 1980, my first year out of college. The year before, when our families had gotten together for dinner, I had stumbled when asked about the significance of the December 7th date. After chastising me for squandering four years of a college education, he aimed his index finger at me, and with his gruff but oddly comforting Kentucky cadence, assured me he wouldn’t let me forget again.
“Don’t ever take your freedom for granted.”
A year later he called to remind me, an annual ritual which he continued for 19 consecutive years.
This December 7, the seventy-eighth anniversary, I have a chilling sense our country is experiencing Deja vu. No enemy bombs rain down on us. No images of flaming ships scream from the headlines. But a squadron of cowardly politicians have seemingly lost their minds to the siren songs of power and personal gain and are eroding the foundations of our republic with the destructive force of a malignant cancer. Their acts may lack the sudden impact and violence of that murderous attack, but they are equally ruinous.
We suffer an administration, an enabling GOP, and an attorney general that extoll acts of ignorance, replace statesmen with sycophants, dismiss intelligence in favor of propaganda, and revere partisanship and influence over patriotism. Decode their talking points and manipulations of the facts, and you get the modern-day equivalent of Tora, Tora, Tora.
I promised my friend I would remember, but right now remembering by itself seems as egregious as silently watching a brutal mugging without so much as dialing 911. I’m haunted by his finger pointing at me from across the table warning me not to forget the horrific toll a lack of integrity and vigilance can inflict.
Silence is acquiescence. We need to augment remembering with taking a stand, speaking out, and not losing a grip on the facts. If not, we may as well wave a white flag, and remember Pearl Harbor by adding Truth, Integrity, and The Rule of Law to the names inscribed in marble over the sunken decks of the USS Arizona.