, Port Arthur, Texas


December 6, 2011

The date that lives in infamy

PORT ARTHUR — The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines infamy as “evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking or brutal.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt was exactly on target when he described that Dec. 7 Sunday morning — 70 years ago today — as a date that would live in infamy.

Franklin was speaking to Congress one day after Japan’s sneak attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Within an hour after the famed speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan, bringing America into World War II. With the passing of 70 years since that day when the U.S. was “suddenly and deliberately attacked,” many who were here then are no longer with us to keep the memory alive of how a nation responded to the attack on a sleepy Sunday morning by approximately 360 planes from a Japanese fleet in the Pacific.

The Navy and Marine Corps suffered a total of 2,896 casualties of which 2,117 were deaths and 779 wounded. The Army lost 228 killed or died of wounds, 113 seriously wounded and 346 slightly wounded. In addition, at least 57 civilians were killed and nearly as many seriously injured.

To hear people who were alive at that time tell of their memories of when and how they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor is similar to the way people tell when and how they heard about the attacks on the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. The Pearl Harbor generation is often called the “Greatest Generation” because of the way they responded to not only the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but also the Fascist Nazi attack on the world. More than 400,000 Americans were killed in World War II to secure liberty for America and for the Western World.

In addition to preserving our liberty, those Americans who responded to the attack launched against the U.S. on this date 70 years ago stood as an example to new generations six decades later who were again called to arms to preserve America’s liberties against another sneak attack by air, this time in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a failed attack that ended in a field in Pennsylvania.

America will never forget that date that will live in infamy. Nor will we forget those men and women who responded to that grossly criminal, shocking and brutal attack against America and against liberty, those who gave up their lives so we could have ours. That’s why Roosevelt said the date would live. Though the time will come when all who were there are gone from this earth, the memory of what they did will live on and be an example to new generations when their date with destiny arrives.

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