A day that changed the world

By John Peters

December 7, 2013

Franklin Roosevelt wasn’t exactly correct when he pronounced Dec. 7, 1941 as a day that will live in infamy.

It has, for quite some time, held that status. Unfortunately, as time passes and significant events fade into history, such days are eventually forgotten. Today’s children and young adults know Dec. 7 — the day Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor — as an answer on a history question. Oftentimes, they don’t even remember that after the test is completed and turned in.

For those who lived it, and even for the next generation afterward who heard stories of the day, whose view of the world was colored by the first-hand accounts of their parents’ life during World War II, the day carries a significance like none other in the 20th century.

That attack, though not entirely a surprise to American political leaders, ushered the United States into World War II and changed the course of human development across the globe.

Young wives saw their husbands go off to war, families saw their sons and brothers take up arms and fight around the world. The people left behind — older or younger men and the wives and mothers and daughters of the fighting men — took their place in factories and in businesses.

Everyone did their part, whether that be putting your head down and soldiering on through the mud and cold of open warfare or rolling up your sleeves and working harder and longer hours in the factory.

And when, after four years of fighting, the war ended, those men returned and that generation of Americans, the one sometimes referred to as the greatest generation (though serious historians with a knowledge of what the founding fathers of America accomplished might take issue with that), spent the next several decades as they did in wartime — working hard, doing what was needed, being part of the greatness of American society.

And in so doing they helped reshape America and rebuild the world.

Now, as we move well into the second decade of the 21st century, many of those World War II soldiers and their families have passed on, their experiences and memories faded.

For those who remain, on this day, the anniversary of when the war, for all practical intents and purposes, began for America, we offer thanks not just for war time service, but for lives lived in the best traditions of American values — working hard, taking care of family, and doing whatever was needed to make America even better for successive generations.