Pearl Harbor Day

I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolved.”   –Yamamoto

December 7–“a day which will live in infamy,” said President Franklin Roosevelt–well, here it is, and no one seems to have noticed.

This is Pearl Harbor Day. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy launched a sneak attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, while peace negotiations were being held in Washington. The attack wiped out America’s Pacific Fleet battleships and  crippled our nation’s self-defense.

It also brought utter catastrophe to Japan, as Admiral Yamamoto foretold it would. Not only were his warnings unheeded: he was ordered to lead the attack.

On this day a few years ago, I was teaching at a public high school in the suburbs. When I noticed that Pearl Harbor was not mentioned by anyone else in the school, I told the college prep class what had happened on that day in 1941.

“My father and his friends, when they heard the news, all went down to the recruitment offices to try to sign up, but the military wouldn’t take them because they were too young. But they all went back when they were old enough to serve.”

The students stared at me as if I had a swarm of black beetles crawling all over my face.

“Why did your father and his friends do that?” a student asked me–genuinely perplexed that anyone should wish to defend his country in a time of war, after a ruthless sneak attack during peace negotiations. “Yeah–why?” echoed another.

When I finally found words, all I could say was, “This is truly amazing. For the first time in recorded history, the immense resources of the state–in this case, the school, the teachers, the materials, the insurance, all the costs of education–have been used to convince a whole generation that the state is not worthy of its loyalty. Not worth fighting for. Not worth defending. Do you think this experiment can possibly have a good result?”

I doubted my words had any impact. But several months later, one of the girls in the class came up to me in the hall and told me, “I can’t stop thinking about what you said to us, that day, Pearl Harbor Day.” So I like to think maybe I did a little bit of good.

Funny, isn’t it? Throughout their time in school, America’s children are taught that America sucks, it’s the source of all the world’s problems, it needs its karma leveled, yatta-yatta… and at the same time, the same teachers labor to instill in their students a reflexive obedience to any and all decrees of the state, a desire for the state to have more and more power over their lives, and a longing for a super-state to lord it over all the earth.

Father in Heaven, hear our prayers, and deliver us out of the hands of these ungodly rulers.

One comment on “Pearl Harbor Day”

Leave a Reply