December 7th, Then and Now…

uss_arizona_memorialWe are still affected and effected by 9-11. But before that, there was December 7th.

It’s easy to characterize it as just another of history’s darkest days and think it was somehow different, or to relegate it in the national consciousness to the emotional and psychological status of the dust of the ancients. Some of us can’t.

If you’ve ever been to Pearl Harbor and seen the drops of fuel oil still rising to the surface from the battleship Arizona, it is as if the hundreds entombed there are reaching out to us, asking “Why?”

An entire fleet went to the bottom on that December 7th, 72 years ago today. The Arizona was one of only two ships not raised after the attack. When she exploded, her hull was shattered and her crew was killed.

Any day that memorializes warfare is tough for peace advocates. It’s tougher for those who lost and sacrificed, and for their loved ones.

Ironically, it is the damaged veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, two unpopular wars, and not the veterans of World War II, who have finally earned a plethora of help and services for their service.

Not even all World War II veterans have received their due, emotionally, financially, or in expressions of our gratitude. Those who served in the Merchant Marine are still waiting for basic veterans benefits, despite the fact they suffered casualty rates — combat deaths — on par with the crews of the B-17s.

larry-wines-formalThe Greatest Generation quite literally saved the world from continued genocide and brutal repression that knew no bounds. But they were not, and are not, the only Americans who have served.

So, on this day, December 7th, let us remember all of them, and seek to learn whatever elusive lessons we have missed to guarantee all humanity that no other young people will lie beneath the ocean in an exploded ship, or be pulverized inside an exploded building, or be left in a remote jungle, or lie in a pool of blood in a rocky desert.

Remember Pearl Harbor.

Larry Wines

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