Daniel Martinez has been at Pearl Harbor for 32 years and is its Chief Historian. He worries about our collective memory. “M ost of the young people that come here don’t have a clue what happened at this place … and don’t even know who won the war.”
[pullquote]Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. ~George Santayana[/pullquote]
How Is That Possible?
Is it really possible that most young people who visit Pearl Harbor don’t even know who won the war?
I have to reject that notion because it’s inconceivable. While Mr. Martinez did not limit those “young people” to Americans, I think that was his intention.
In either case, it’s a tragic and embarrassing commentary on our educational institutions if most young people around the world don’t know who won World War II.
Doesn’t that seem impossible to you?
A Day That Will Live in Infamy
Today is the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, precipitating the U.S. entry into World War II.
On this day we honor and remember the extraordinary sacrifices made on a day that “will forever live in infamy” and changed the course of world history.
More than 2,500 U.S. lives were lost that day, a number which grew to 416,800 U.S. military deaths during the course of the war along with more than 600,000 military wounded.
World-wide deaths during WWII exceeded 15 million lost in battle and more than 45 million civilian deaths.
The Staggering Sacrifice
These are staggering numbers that few people today fully grasp. This level of sacrifice and suffering is unfathomable, yet it remains a grim reminder of the enormous loss of life that occurs during armed conflict and the sacrifices that are made every day in the pursuit of freedom.
Now, 75 years later, we must reclaim the same determination as we face enemies without conscience amid the continuing scourge of terrorism that threatens civilized people across the globe.
Let’s Bow our Heads on this Solemn Occasion
There are a lot of lessons that can be gleaned from our experience on December 7, 1941, both before and after.
As I wrote this article, I reflected on some of those “lessons learned” from the events leading up to the attack, and the American response following it. In the end, I decided to save those for another day.
Today, let’s simply give thanks for the enormous sacrifice of the “Greatest Generation” that allows us to live in a country founded and sustained on the principles of freedom and liberty.
Question: What are you doing to make sure you have an informed understanding of history? You can easily add your comment below, or by visiting our Facebook Page or @Exkalibur on Twitter. I visit them every day and look forward to discussing these ideas and concepts with you.