Remembering Pearl Harbor
By A. Ray Lee
“A day that will live in infamy.” Those words of President Roosevelt continue to resonate in the memories of those who remain of my generation.
Early Sunday morning of December 7, 1941, the poisonous seeds of another world war that had been sowed far from our shores exploded into full bloom when Japan bombed the American naval fleet at Pearl Harbor in a carefully planned sneak attack. The shock waves reverberated around the world and the nation found itself drawn into another worldwide conflict.
Although Japan had achieved a tactical success it would pay a heavy price for it in the coming months and years. It is reported when it was discovered that the US aircraft carriers were not in the harbor as had been hoped and remained untouched on the high seas, one Japanese strategist had tempered the celebration over the apparent victory with the fateful words: “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled it with a terrible resolve.” The years ahead would prove his fears to be well-founded.
I had just passed my fifth birthday when I heard the news at church the evening of the attack. I knew little of life beyond the provincial community in which my life existed. I had never heard of Pearl Harbor and wondered why the adults were somber as they huddled together and spoke in concerned tones. In time I understood.
The effects upon our nation were manifested in every area of our lives. We responded to the challenge. Putting aside our differences we came together as one people and found a way to move forward to victory despite the changes demanded in our lifestyles.
In the months and years following, my life and thinking were greatly affected by the event. For the first time, I realized there was a big world beyond Lebanon and Falkville which was vastly different from that which I knew. Years later I would travel abroad to many countries in ministry. I could not resist comparing them to my homeland. After a week or two away I was ready to board the big American Jet and be homeward bound.
During my youth, I developed a deep sense of patriotic pride in being an American. That pride was bolstered as each school day began with a salute to the American flag and a pledge of allegiance to the country for which it stands.
Over the decades and countless conflicts around the world we have experienced as a nation, the memory of Pearl Harbor seems to have faded from our national consciousness like unidentifiable sepia photos stored away in an album that has not been opened in many years.
I honor the memory of those of my parents’ generation who went to war defending our country and those who paid the ultimate price when our freedom was threatened. The ensuing years have not dampened my patriotic spirit for the greatest nation on earth. In spite of the inner turmoil we are witnessing in the land, there is not even a close second to the good Ole USA. Our nation has its faults but I affirm the words of Stephen Decatur: “My country, right or wrong, my country.”
The Psalmist has assured us, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 33:12). In Him we must place put out trust.