By the time I was born, December 7th, 1941 was already 35 years old.
My father and mother weren’t even alive at the time.
But my grandfathers were.
I will never comprehend what it is like to live in the world, hoping and praying that all that war stuff will stay away from home, that we can somehow be kept apart from it. And then to wake up in the morning of 12/7, realize the utter foolishness of that sentiment, and to being readying yourself for a protracted war with two powers you aren’t sure you can beat.
Some say that 9/11 is another 12/7. No, it isn’t. We never had a doubt going into Afghanistan and Iraq and all over the world that we could beat those who tried to hurt us on 9/11. We are far and away the most powerful nation in the world, a behemoth that has never existed on the earth. The only thing that can stop us is God our ourselves. As long as God favors us, and as long as we choose to move forward, we move forward, unstoppable.
Those who responded to 12/7 responded as a nation that was strong, but not the strongest, not by any stretch of the imagination. They faced real uncertainty. The Japanese had a better navy, a more devoted army. The Germans had an unconquerable war machine. Between the two, they had won every battle they put their resources into fighting. Democracy was on the decline, totalitarianism on the rise.
Those who responded responded with a prayer that perhaps, perhaps, we could maintain our sovereignty after it is all said and done.
They sacrificed more than our soldiers sacrificed today. The harrowing death toll among American soldiers is a shadow of what the rest of the world saw. Still, compared to today’s numbers, it was an absolute disaster. The single day invasion of D-Day was a bloodbath. Our marines were cut down on islands fortified by the Japanese.
My own grandfather survived Guadalcanal. The more I study about what happened there, the more I understand why he has told no one what happened there, not even his wife. When the marines were faced with an impossible task–to drive out deeply embedded Japanese troops in the most unfavorable of circumstances–they drove forward and were slaughtered by the hundreds for it. They crawled over the dead bodies of their brothers for the privilege of adding themselves to the heap. Marines were poured onto the island like firewood into a fire. Their lives were consumed by it as well. Entire units disappeared. Others saw their numbers drop to single digits, even the number 1.
That was what they faced.
It was hell, something we simply cannot imagine happening today, at least on our side.
I cannot begin to describe my gratitude and wonder at their sacrifice. They gave their lives so that I could be born into a country where men are not ruled but rule. They did so willingly. And their sacrifice was enough.
May we never forget that God remembered our fathers in the hour of their need. May we never forget that God remembers us still.