Friday, December 7, 2012

the impact of Pearl Harbor

All of us know the story of Pearl Harbor.  "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked..."  As children we learned about it in school.  As adults we saw the sweeping  Jerry Bruckheimer movie starring Ben Affleck.  A lucky few among us may have even visited the memorial site shown above. 

This past Veteran's Day I was inspired to do further research on some of the names I heard connected to the day's events.  I read about the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, a direct retaliation for the bombings.  I researched the status of the United States' air and naval power, both before and after the attack.  I checked out Tom Brokaw's book, The Greatest Generation, from the library.  But is that all Pearl Harbor is now?  Interesting reading? 

The United States was struck down to its knees by the Japanese invasion.  However, when Congress declared war the following day, the Nation collectively dusted itself off and rolled up its sleeves.  Roosevelt's administration put the policies in place to ready the country.  Industries stop making cookware and started making bullets.  Men enlisted.  Women enlisted.  Those on the home front set up fund raising events, planted Victory Gardens, and ran scrap drives.  The Nation mobilized and never slowed down for four years.

So I got to wondering, do we still have that spirit within us today?  Would each of us be willing to sacrifice, bear the responsibility, and work together towards a common goal?  Now I'm sure there were plenty of complaints in the 1940s when folks really started to feel the effects of rationing.  And I'm sure there were some who profited on people's patriotism.  But it really must have been something to be part of such a profound national movement.

Now maybe it's due in part to the holiday season that my thoughts turn towards my charitable obligations.  After all, this is the season of red buckets.  But in one short month those ringing reminders will be off the streets.  Soon we'll all be back to our regular routines of immediately saying "thank you but I'm not interested" to all those unsolicited phone calls from the Cancer Society and the Special Olympics.

So this year I am challenging myself to look back on history and recapture that feeling.  The feeling that swept the Nation in 1941.  A feeling of determination and responsibility.  A need to step up and make a difference.  In the past I've volunteered time to run the children's story hour at the library every week.  And I chaperone school field trips.  I bake desserts for the funeral dinners at church and sing in the choir.  But somehow this seems lacking.

I'm not sure what it is yet, but I want to do more.  Maybe the Boys and Girls Club?  The local food pantry?  Or maybe I'll start by visiting my elderly next door neighbor a bit more often.  Small things count, and one by one, they all add up.  And if each of us extend a hand or volunteer an hour, we could transform our communities into the kind that the Greatest Generation fought so hard to preserve. 

So how about you?  Are you doing your part?


  1. Oh I think it must have been exciting to live during that time. Sadly, I don't think that type of excitement would catch on so quickly now. Our Country has too many hands out...too many spoiled little rich kids...(and I'm not talking about the $200K bunch either.
    Most people are stymied when it comes to WHAT TO DO to first take care of themselves at home and then to wonder or bother to care for their elderly, orphans or neighbors...
    Victory Gardens, maintenance and repairs to autos,small appliances,machinery and equipment; learning to do without some common items not just luxuries--it just part of the mind set needed in this country...not every 'cry of wolf' needs a huntsman.
    Some people are just clueless.
    I am grateful for the men and women who serve in this day and age--as they are volunteers! But volunteerism at a poor turn out I'm afraid.

    I enjoyed this post.
    I hope you understand I was just using my passionate voice...and not an angry or UN-Patriotic one! :) Pat

    1. I agree with you that most of society today would have a hard time tightening their belts, especially for any length of time. One reoccurring comment from the WWII vets in "The Greatest Generation" was that we have lost our sense of responsibility. We are not willing to put in the sweat and tears to make our lives better; we think it should be easy, all the time. Those that grew up during the Depression and then fought in WWII were no strangers to hardship and struggle. I would like to see more people appreciate what they have, work for what they want and be more willing to share of themselves.

  2. Thanks , time to reach out and help one another, all through the year , one day at a time!

  3. I feel like helping at our school goes towards the wealth of the community. Our teachers can always use help in guiding our children into leaders of tomorrow. Hopefully my sons will be active in their communities and nation as the grow. I have also done a bake sale for the USO. That is still around, and still helping our troops who still appreciate bits of home.

  4. My Uncle was at Pearl Harbor. He jumped into the water which caused him to suffer 3rd degree burns over most of his body. He never spoke about it, not even to my Grandmother (his sister). Hard to believe it was so long ago.


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