Attack!

77 years ago a foreign nation dropped bombs and strafed our country. To be sure, Hawaii was not yet a state, but it was U.S. territory and the headquarters for the Pacific Fleet.

Today, I’m thinking of how our country responded to this attack. Many commentators have called that particular generation “the Greatest Generation”. I have had the privilege to know a few dozen n very intimate terms.

The phrase “Greatest Generation” is not enough. In many ways it trivializes their experience. The country had been steeped in isolationism since WWI, it had very little interest in the Axis Powers, and their plans for Europe and Asia. We had great and vast oceans to protect us. Mexico and Canada did not give us concern

The latest research may enlighten how Mexico considered how an alliance with the Axis Powers may b in their best interest. This might have been an unvoiced concern, and with the attack from Japan made our decision certain.

The government leaders knew of this issue, but the general public was still comfortable behind the walls of our oceans.

What is interesting to me is the distance covered from weeks before the attack, to the weeks after the attack. There is probably no greater event in our history. Certainly the Civil War was a hard sell for many years, and WWI was not super popular.

The mobilization for WWII was nearly 10% of our population. Germany had 31% of their population under arms. Japan had almost 5% in the military. Of course the last year of the war included the invasion of Germany which certainly impacted those numbers. The same could have been said of Japan if we hadn’t used the Atonic bomb.

It will be forever debated whether the use of the atomic arsenal saved more lives than the actual victims. Most military historians believe that the U.S. would have eventually won the conflict, but at the cost of over one million soldiers, and several million Japanese citizens

It is 89 years later and I still have some unanswered questions. The government of Germany was disbanded and their hated Swastika flag disappeared.

In Japan the Emperor was never tried for war crimes, and the Rising Sun flag is still their flag. Even the war flag of the rising sun with rays is still used for their defense forces.

I’m confused, what should I discern from this? At the time we weren’t awash with Japanese vehicles, in fact, Japanese products were cheap and unreliable. Apparently it was just politics and future economics.

We still have over 50,000 service men stationed in a country that had conquered nearly all of Asia during the war. Could they do more for their own defense? They still have their battle flag.

So why should we care, it was 77 years ago. Most people don’t remember because most people are dead. But I remember, and I wasn’t born for another 4 years.

I don’t hold a grudge , I just hold memories, and the honor for “the Greatest Generation”.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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