“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” ~ President Franklin D. Roosevelt
These words ring true for all veterans of all services from 1941 to this day. For me, this date will always be a sacred date — not only because it plunged our country into World War II (which my grandfather and father served in) where so many military and civilians sacrificed their lives, but because 46 years later (to the day) I entered the United States Air Force.
I didn’t chose that date to enlist, it just was the way the courses of events occurred.
I am grateful that my enlistment date is December 7th. I somehow feel more connected to the men and women who served and sacrificed so much for our country.
There are few days of the year that I hold dear to my heart and December 7th is one of them. My grandmother lost a brother in the US Army Air Corp. I don’t know the whole story other that he was on a bomber and none of the crew were ever found.
My grandfather (my mom’s father) served in the Army and my father (served in the Merchant Marines (part of the coast guard). They were both blessed to come home — for that I am grateful.
I’m always touched when I see the sacrifice of the service members on that day. The grainy black and white photos, static recordings of announcers breaking into a football game to announce the tragedy, the slow still movies of the destruction of one of our bases by what was (at the time) a formidable air force.
I watch the dedications and the photos of the memorial we placed at the site of this tragedy. I feel drawn to it, like a moth to a light. It is something I wish to see in person one day. To touch the water, to breath in the air, to be for one brief moment part of the military past.
During one of the spots on tv, I watched older former service men stand on a deck saluting those that did not make it that day. One particular sailor caught my attention. His hand shook slightly while he saluted. I wondered where he was that day. Was he sleeping as were so many? Was he on duty? The old sailors faded into a new modern more colorful guard that stood behind them. I was hard pressed not to cry along with the sailors of 1941.
I love our military traditions — the respect we feel to honor the past and to those who sacrificed their lives.
The speech that Roosevelt gave before congress has become part of the American fabric, as was the attack itself. It lasted 7 minutes and like his opening line, his last was just as memorable:
“…But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. . .”
I shall never forget.