You have to be very old today to have much recollection of
December 7, 1941 when the Japanese regime of that time
ordered and succeeded attacking the U.S. naval base at
Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. I myself am no youngster, but I
was in my mother’s womb at the time, and thus have no
memories of the iconic national “sneak attack” which
brought America into World War II.
By the time I made my natal appearance six months later,
the villain in the war, Herr Hitler, was about to make the
second of many strategic blunders by invading Russia
(his first mistake had been to declare war on the U.S. the
day after Pearl Harbor, thus giving President Roosevelt
an excuse to enter the European war.)
In fact, Hitler made so many more blunders over the next
three years, I think his reputation as a military strategist
among some historians is much overrated.
The savviest leader in the Japanese military, Admiral
Yamamoto (who led the attack), knew Pearl Harbor,
however a devastating surprise, was ultimately a mistake
(“I fear we have now awakened a sleeping giant…..”) It was
a desperate action by the Japanese militaristic clique
which for a decade been riding roughshod over eastern
Asia, but was now shut out of needed resources as the
penalty for its bad behavior.
Not until September 11, 2001 did the U.S endure another
military surprise attack, but this time the attacker was not a’
single country, but a multinational jihad. In this case, the
“sleeping giant” awoke again — although it has not been
able to bring about an unconditional ending as it did in 1945.
Now we have gone through a surprise attack not by national
military, nor by a multinational group, but by a virus which
not singled the U.S. out — it has attacked globally.
Although there are articles inevitably written about how
the “day of infamy” is being forgotten, it is the nature of
human events that they fade in memory as those who lived
through them pass away or grow old. I don’t think a citizen in
Rome, Italy today is emotionally distraught by what happened
to Caeser on the Ides of March two millennia ago.
The best we seem able to do is preserve and remember the
facts of events as best we can — something easier said than
done, even in an age with videos and forensics.
History always unfolds with periodic surprises. The future,
sometimes predictable, is always ultimately guesswork
Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.