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Our View: Pearl Harbor lessons are there for the taking

December 6, 2017

More than three quarters of a century later, the commemorations of the attack on Pearl Harbor recall a different time that still offers invaluable lessons for today.

Tomorrow marks the 76th anniversary of America’s involvement in World War II. It was a defining moment for a generation of Americans, a generation that is sadly passing on.

It was a different, simpler time, of course, and there’s a danger the lessons will be relegated to history. It is, after all, something that happened more than 75 years ago, when technology, weaponry and international relations were very different from today.

It shouldn’t be forgotten. It can’t be. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was unthinkable at the time. Lesson one is that the unthinkable can happen. A careful reconstruction of the times shows the attack shouldn’t have been so surprising.

The Japanese at the time were aggressive in Asia and diplomatic relations with the U.S. were beyond sour.

Any relevance to today?

There is an Asian country, North Korea by name, that is hurling increasingly powerful missiles across the region while at the same time improving its nuclear weapon capability.

The U.S. and North Korea have virtually no diplomatic relations. A despotic North Korean leader repeatedly threatens to crush the U.S.

Should that country refine its weapons, could the unthinkable happen again? The rational mind says no, that mindless destruction and death aren’t a sensible solution to anything.

An aggressor, though, can see the psychological damage from an attack that destroys this comfortable mindset.

Those who saw the Pearl Harbor attack up close and personal are the ones best able to describe it. There are fewer and fewer of those around.

When the bell from the USS Arizona rings on the campus of the University of Arizona at noon — as it does each December 7, how many in hearing distance will know why?

The bell’s ring is a call to remember the sacrifices of the more than 3,000 U.S. service men and women who died or were wounded in the attack. Its ring is also a call to remain vigilant and prepared.

Tomorrow’s surprises won’t be the same as 76 years ago, except that they are unthinkable and unexpected.

On Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the attack on our country’s soil needs to be remembered.

— Today’s News-Herald

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