December 7, 2006

Blast From the Past Repost: Remembering Pearl Harbor

Hatched by Sachi

Sachi wrote this piece last year on Pearl Harbor Day. Since the post is, alas, even more true today than it was 365 days ago, we decided it was worth revisiting. Once again, we're in danger of forgetting who lurks beyond the gates...


When 9/11 happened, many people compared it to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 64 years ago today. We Americans of Japanese ancestry felt a little bit uncomfortable with the comparison. My father, who still lives in Japan, thought “remember Pearl Harbor” meant “never forgive the Japanese.” But I know better. "No Dad," I told him, "that’s not what it means."

The commonality between the Pearl Harbor attack and 9/11 is its unexpectedness. Both attacks happened when our (American) world was seemingly at peace. What angered us was the enemy’s cowardly and dishonorable attack, the savage disregard for innocent lives. But we were more angry with ourselves for letting our guard down. We were angry at the enemy, sad for our loss, but worse yet, humiliated.

How could mighty America, my adopted country, which has the strongest military and economy in the world and is the most moral nation on the planet, let an enemy attack on our own soil? How could we miss the signs that militant Islamists had been plotting against us for years? How could we have been so complacent?

“Never again,” Americans of 64 years ago swore, “will we allow a savage enemy to attack us on our own soil.” And yet 60 years later, we made exactly the same mistake. Why?

For exactly the same reason: because we forgot. We forgot who was out there beyond the pale. And we forgot how we felt that day December 7th, 1941.

The enemy are not the Japanese. The enemy are not the Moslems. The enemy are the faceless, cowardly savages who are always lurking in the shadows around us, looking for an opportunity to strike at our most vulnerable spot, which usually means innocent women, children, and other civilians. We must never forget that such an enemy exists.

So when we say “remember Pearl Harbor,” Dad, we're really saying "remember that, even when there are no bullets or bombs flying, we are always at war against evil. We have to become like Terminators against barbarity. To paraphrase James Cameron, we can't reason with it, we can't bargain with it, we can't feel pity or remorse or fear... and we absolutely must not stop, ever, until it is dead.”

So, let’s not forget what we felt on Dec 7th and Sept. 11th. Because the minute we forget, it will surely happen again... and another terrible disaster will be forever known only by a date.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, December 7, 2006, at the time of 1:34 PM

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