As many know from history books and from myriad Hollywood movies, the Japanese Empire attacked U.S. military and naval forces on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, an act of aggression that launched the United States into global conflict with the Axis powers.
The following day, then President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a memorable speech, asking the U.S. Congress for a declaration of war against the Japanese.
Seventy-one years have passed since Roosevelt uttered the phrase “a date which will live in infamy,” and his words proved prophetic as we continue to observe the day and honor the more than 2,400 Americans who lost their lives as a result of the attack.
With each passing year and each passing observance of Pearl Harbor Day, there are fewer World War II veterans we can turn to and thank for their service. There are fewer Americans we can turn to with questions about the shocking events of that day and that war.
This holiday season, reach out to a grandparent, a parent, an aunt, an uncle, even a neighbor. Ask them about that day, ask them about the lives of ordinary Americans during those years of hardship and war.
It’s worth remembering the sacrifices of those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, but it’s also worth knowing the smaller sacrifices that each American was asked to make in defense of our country.
It’s easy to forget that our own hardships are neither the first nor the last we will face as a nation. Others who have come before us are a fount of inspiration. They’re tough, and they have a thing or two they can teach us.
Don’t waste that opportunity.