By Alan Caruba Wednesday, December 5, 2012
I recall in my youth thinking that the Civil War (1861-1865) was ancient history. As with most children, anything that occurred before my birth was “ancient.” In point of fact, the Civil War had ended just 72 years before I was born in 1937 and there were likely some men still alive who had fought in it or recalled it as youth.
I suspect that the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941, the day that Franklin Delano Roosevelt said “will live in infamy” is ancient history to several recent generations of Americans, many of whom are the aging baby boomers, the children born after our troops returned home, married, and began to raise families after 1945, the year World War II ended.
What I fear most is that the children and grandchildren of those baby boomers may not even know what occurred on that Sunday morning 71 years ago.
The general ignorance of Americans about their own history comes with its own price. Forgetting or never knowing that a long Cold War was fought with the Soviet Union from the end of World War II until its collapse in 1991 has left this nation with a President whose ideology concerning capitalism and centralized government closely mirrors the communist empire America expended blood and treasure to defeat.
While younger generations may have a fleeting grasp of the 1970s Vietnam War, most probably do not even know that, shortly after World War II ended, many U.S. servicemen were called to duty to fight the invasion of South Korea by North Korea, 1950-1953, a communist satellite of China whose troops were involved. I have an older brother who served in the Tokyo-based Supreme Headquarters Far East Command during that war. You can bet he remembers it.
The Korean War ended in a stalemate. Technically, only a ceasefire agreement exists. South Korea went on to become an industrial success story while North Korea still cannot keep the lights on at night. It makes nuclear weapons and missiles to pay the bills these days, in addition to a variety of other criminal activities. The grandson of its first dictator is the new dictator and observers have dubbed North Korea “China’s hidden dagger” because nothing happens there without Chinese oversight and permission.
Pearl Harbor has a special place in American history because….