Stop for a moment. Be very still. Shut out the sights and sounds of the world around you. Are you there? Now, recall where you were when the planes hit the World Trade Center. How did you feel? Afraid? Shocked?
Almost thirty years ago, I remember my wife screaming for me to come out of the bathroom to the living room. “They’ve blown it all up!” she said. I watched in horror as that bifurcated plume of rocket exhaust proved the Challenger space shuttle had exploded shortly after take off with a school teacher on board.
Some of us can recall an even more shocking moment. I confess that I was but a small child, but talk to anyone over the age of 65 and they can tell you exactly what they were doing and where they were the moment President John F. Kennedy was shot. Fifty years have passed and still the grim and horrifying jerky images of the Zapruder film signaled an end to Camelot; an end to America at its greatest.
But, sadly, there are fewer and fewer Americans alive today who recall when they heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked on December 7, 1941. My parents lived through the Great Depression and moved to a large city from a failing farm in the early 1940’s. They are both passed on now, but their stories of the fear and dread they felt when they learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor eclipsed any fear I have experienced since then.
Today, now 72 years later, our memories of that attack have faded and have suffered from the reconstruction of history. Japan is no longer our enemy. Hawaii is no longer a territory and has become the default tourist destination for many Americans. It is difficult for us to fathom the enormity of the defeat of the American fleet on that day. In our day of drones and laser tagged missile attacks and cyber warfare, this kind of attack is unthinkable.
So, pause for a moment and remember the men and women who died that day in a sudden, underserved attack by the Empire of Japan. Stop and recall whatever tiny bit of shock and awe you may have felt in the past few years at other attacks on our country. Be still and say a prayer for our country; say a word of thanks for the men and women who daily put their lives on the line for our freedom.
You see we are free. Freedom and liberty have driven the metamorphosis of our country into what it has become today. Most of those men and women who died that day in Pearl Harbor would not recognize modern America. It would be more foreign to them than any of the enemy countries they fought to defeat. But, there is no dispute in the fact that they would lay down those lives again if it meant protecting the freedom and liberty that has allowed us to grow into the country we are today, good or bad. Let us not take that liberty for granted. For, tomorrow, there could very well be an attack on our country more heinous and more devastating than Pearl Harbor. The question we must ask ourselves:
Do we have what it takes to face such a challenge as did those who fought the Great War against a world filled with evil and death? Let us hope that we do not forget these lessons of history. As Ravi Zacharias once said, “the only thing worse than nostalgia is amnesia.”
To the World War II veterans who have gone on to their reward and to the veterans who still live with those bitter memories, we salute you. Thank you for fighting and dying for our liberty. May we NEVER forget!