Friday, December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor in Perspective

Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941
December 7, 2012


Michael Kelbaugh

December 7, 1941 is a date which will live in infamy.  Any unfounded illusions held by peace-loving Americans concerning the intentions of Imperial Japan or its ally Nazi Germany were painfully but necessarily shattered that day, on which our nation was stirred into action before it was too late to stop the threat that the Axis powers posed 
to us and the rest of the world.

Franklin Roosevelt is universally acclaimed as a good war president, guiding the United States through an unprecedented time of global upheaval.  His domestic policies, however, granted enormous powers to the federal government that it has not since failed to abuse.
The Axis powers have come and gone, but the internal dangers created by Roosevelt's New Deal still plague us today.  No member of the Greatest Generation could have predicted that while Japan, our deadliest enemy, would soon become one of our closest allies, a benign little program called Social Security would one day threaten to exhaust our nation's finances and economy.
The most devastating attack since December 7, 1941 came nearly sixty years later, on September 11.  Very few, in the wake of that day, could have imagined that we would not suffer an attack of similar magnitude within the next seven years.  But for the rest of George Bush's presidency, the country was kept safe, notwithstanding the moral indignation of those who wished to bestow the constitutional rights enjoyed by American citizens on the cutthroats devoted to those citizens' destruction.  But even the Bush administration, through entitlement expansion, subsidized housing, and more spending, helped contribute to our current fiscal troubles.
We face weighty international challenges today, with a Middle East as unstable as ever and a state sponsor of terrorism still intent on obtaining a nuclear weapon.  But the United States, miraculously, has thus far survived every single external threat, often emerging stronger than before.  For the most part, the federal government over the years has fulfilled its primary role of protecting the citizenry and providing for the common defense.  But the ugly visage of international Communism has proven a less formidable adversary than the iconic, mass-produced smiley-face of Westernized socialism.
For this generation of Americans, it is our budgets, not our battlefields, which are stained red -- and  the small, internal matters, more so than anything dramatic, that have slowly but very steadily contributed to the possibility of a looming demise.
Our next bunch of heroic representatives who will take office in Washington this January are not unlikely to bungle the complex matters of Israel and Egypt and Iran, along with the simple and commonplace act of balancing a budget.  But it may well be the latter failure that most imperils our nation's future.

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Bee's Note:
My dear mother's generation lived through the "Great Wall Street Crash" of 1929, which led to the "Great Depression" lasting ten years.  My mother was second oldest of eight siblings and the memory of her family "surviving" during those ten years remained with her for the rest of her life.  Her father was fortunate to have a job, but feeding a family of ten, plus a grandmother who lived with her family, took ingenuity and an imagination!  The family began raising chickens and growing vegetable gardens.  If one of the children needed a new dress or suit, her mother and grandmother became adapt at ripping up curtains and turning them into a new dress.  In their cellar (basement), the walls were lined with canned vegetables and sacks of potatoes.  Every single penny made by the children, doing odd jobs, was put into the "family" jar - the "community" bank.  In one corner of the living room was an old piano, where the family gathered after the evening meal to sing songs, while her grandmother played the piano.  (Here is where my mother learned how to play the piano.)  

Hard to imagine people singing through difficult times, but that was the one entertainment that cemented my mother's family together and that was fortunate for me and my family, as I remember always having the sounds of music throughout the home during my childhood years.  Mom had a beautiful singing voice and so did her sisters, and when the relatives visited, we gathered around that old piano and sing the songs of that era, one after another, from heart - never having to look at a music book for the words.  Like my grandparents, my mother could make one dollar stretch as far as a twenty dollar bill today.

And when World War II broke out, my mother's four brothers served our country in both the Navy and Army.  All the men came home - our family was truly blessed.  Everyone survived the Crash and the War.

Today, shades of the past were brought forward since 9/11.  Perhaps not as bad, but certainly not as good as the 1950's and early 60's.  The threats of our nation falling off the 'Fiscal Cliff" have many crying out, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"  However, I do not press the panic button, because I do remember the stories told by my parents, and know that just as their families survived, our nation came together and also survived.

America is a nation of "Survivors"!  Therefore, I do not believe that even if all of us are touched by this thing called the "Fiscal Cliff", America will not fail.  The only difference today, one that could drag us down, is the fact that today's leaders in Washington, DC are allowing an administration to embrace and support the enemy of these United States.  We knew who our enemies were before the attack on Pearl Harbor and we understood what we were fighting against.  Our leaders did not cover up the names and the tyranny of our enemies - we fought against them as a nation.  Those enemies are now some of America's best allies.  

As heartbreaking as it is today, to hear of the financial difficulties families are experiencing, we will survive this period as our grandparents once did; but will America survive the current leadership that supports our enemies throughout the Middle East, while it condemns our one ally Israel in that same area of the world?  When will our federal government acknowledge that Israel is the only "buffer" from having the entire Middle East explode?  The talk of Syria using chemical weapons is an example of how desperate that area has become and could be the beginnings of WWIII, as some predict today.

America, today we remember Pearl Harbor Day - the day of infamy!  May we learn the lessons of that day, when our nation became "One" in unity.  That generation, even after the loss of thousands of good men and women, survived to fight another day.  How is it that since 9/11, we have become so divided?  The House and Senate had better get their ducks in a row and start communicating; and Congress needs to begin doing their job of protecting the citizens who voted them into Office - they need to put the reigns on an administration that refuses to acknowledge the difference between America's enemies and its allies.