WHAT THE PEARL HARBOR ATTACK CAN TEACH US ABOUT TODAY

(my last trip to the soapbox on this topic:)

To friends and acquaintances who complain they’re still suffering from post election stress disorder: Our feelings are shared by many millions of Americans struggling to recover from the horror we experienced when we awoke 11/9  (reverse of 9/11, and just as tragic for our country).

Next Wednesday we may pause to reflect momentarily on what happened on exactly that same date, 75 years ago. It’s likely our parents and grandparents had much the same awful feeling that haunts us now: That things are about to change—undeniably for the worse. Just months after Pearl Harbor was attacked this was a different country. Hundreds of thousands of women became engaged in the workforce as so many American men —and not only young men— found themselves in uniform, fighting for our country. Our industries turned from manufacturing consumer goods to building war machines. And that is when our materials: copper, iron ore and so many other things we were accustomed to having in our homes, were now directed to the war effort. It was a time of mass migration, mostly of people from the South moving to northern industrial cities where there were jobs. And the worst change: the conflict would cut short the lives of many Americans and devastate the thousands of families who got the official word about a loved one being killed in conflict, on the beaches of Normandy, or in the Ardennes Mountains, or in Okinawa, and in so many other places not familiar to Americans then—places many had never heard of before receiving the bad news.

As we go through the painful experiences we’re about to be forced to endure, and since we can’t change what happened—any more than our parents and grandparents could alter the circumstances that deeply affected their lives—the only thing left to do is to get to work on contributing whatever we have to give to rescue our country. There are many disadvantaged people in our communities who need our assistance, there are many organizations fighting for what we believe is right that need our volunteer hours and our financial contributions. There are opportunities to express our beliefs with letters to our representative in Washington and with our words and our feet, when invited to add our energy to the cry for peace, tolerance, justice. Finally, we can hope (and, if it’s our style, to pray) that if the political shift brings the devastating consequences we fear, we will come together as a nation with a common purpose, as Americans did after December 7, 1941.

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