Seventy-seven years ago today, warplanes swooped in from over the ocean and laid waste to a U.S. naval base and nearby Army airfield at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S.A.
The event brought the United States into the global conflict that already had swallowed Europe.
I don’t want to recall the destruction of what occurred in Hawaii that day. We know what happened there, with thousands of American sailors and soldiers dying at the hands of the attackers.
This day marked the birth of America’s Greatest Generation. These men and women answered the call to duty, they rushed to save the world from the tyrants who would do what they did at Pearl Harbor and worse, what they were doing to civilians in Europe and Asia.
We’ve spent a good deal of time remembering one of those young Americans who thrust themselves into harm’s way. Young George Herbert Walker Bush had a college career waiting for him, but he put it on hold. He enlisted in the Navy and became the youngest naval aviator during the war. He faced a harrowing shootdown and rescue by an American submarine in the Pacific Ocean.
He was one of an estimated 16 million Americans who did as the late president did. My father was among those who got into the fight quickly. He, too, felt the enemy’s wrath — in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.
Pearl Harbor signaled a new day in global geopolitical history. It thrust the United States into a worldwide conflict. It mobilized our industrial might and turned it into the world’s greatest military machine.
It also heralded the birth of a generation that demonstrated courage beyond measure. We honor those Americans today while we recall the tragedy that sprang them into action.