~~ By Elaine Owen, Editor ~~
Today is the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. That was the day America was plunged into World War II, a war that
would require the full effort of every American: military men and women, many who gave their lives; farmers who produced the food; those working in factories building tanks and airplanes, and families who waited at home for those who answered a call to defend our country without really knowing why.
That war ended in August 1945, following Japan’s unconditional surrender after President Harry S. Truman ordered a second atomic bomb dropped
on Japan. Those two atomic bombs took thousands of Japanese lives, but they also saved millions of Japanese lives, and possibly a million American
lives, had an invasion of Japan become necessary.
I was only one year old when World War II started so I don’t remember it. But I remember the rationing and the fear. I remember putting black over
our windows at night and the atmosphere of dread at our house as we huddled around the radio listening to the President “talk to the nation.” By the time the war ended, I felt I knew what “War” meant. But in my 5-year-old mind, it meant my older sisters could buy “stockings” again, and we could have desserts at dinner…and Dad no longer told us there was no gas for the truck… My uncle who named me was in that war and it changed his life, as it did millions of Americans who served to save the world from the Axis powers, Germany, Italy and Japan. I remember Dad telling us at the dinner table that President Roosevelt asked us to “save some of our food and pray for America” so we wouldn’t be bombed. I learned later that America
feared a Japanese attack on our west coast. My older brothers and sisters told me it was so we “wouldn’t be bombed.” And when we were not, Dad told us our prayers kept us safe. That’s a lesson I carry with me today.
Before Pearl Harbor, America’s leaders in Washington didn’t want to be drawn into what they considered another “European war.” But President Roosevelt understood the war was coming and its impact on the world, and tried to prepare America to be ready. Nevertheless, America’s military leaders were caught short with the Navy anchored in Pearl Harbor.
Economically, World War II moved America from a deep depression to full employment. America’s factories converted from peace time production to producing war equipment that was shipped around the world to its allies.
Without America’s aid to our allies through the Lend-Lease Act, formally titled “An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States”, (enacted March 11, 1941), a program under which the United States supplied Free France, Great Britain, the Republic of China, and later the USSR and other Allied nations with food, oil, and material between 1941 and August 1945, these nations would likely have been conquered by the Nazi powers and the world would be far different from what it is today. But America led the Allied forces to victory, first in Europe in May 1945, then in the Pacific in August 1945.
Remember, freedom is not free, never has been—and never will be. There will always be powers looking for another opportunity to strike—to destroy America’s freedoms. God bless and keep all who serve in defense of this Republic and her Constitution…and particularly may He rest all those who have given the last full measure of devotion in that service.
Each year on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor survivors, veterans, and visitors from all over the world honor and remember the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A further 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships (the USS Arizona and the USS Utah) and destroyed 188 aircraft.
On Aug. 23, 1994, the United States Congress designated Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
In Blue Ridge, a commemorative service will be held at Veterans Memorial Park at 12 noon. Please join us.