I don't know anyone who was alive during that December 7,1941. I think if my grandfather were still alive he may have been alive during the attacks, but I would never have been able to ask him about it because of the language barrier. I know people who were alive for the moon landing. I know people who were alive for the Challenger shuttle explosion. For all the events after 1960 I know someone. I have heard first account stories of people watching the tv as it happened. I have heard even my own husband talk about the shuttles with such an emotional response as he recounts what he remembers. Yet I don't know ANYONE who can tell me a first hand account of what happened at Pearl Harbor.
In many ways, I can understand. Media coverage back in 1941 was pretty much exclusive to radio and newspaper. We didn't have live tv with people standing there in the rubble. It wasn't actually until we went into the German concentration camps that the average American citizen could have really even seen much of what was going on with the war. All of it changed, really, during the Vietnam War. All of a sudden, we had people out there sending stories back home. The media covered the Vietnam war to a degree never truly seen before by the American populace.
Yet, there is NOTHING for Pearl Harbor. It's mostly just a date in history text books, an event about which movies are made. It has turned from what it was when it happened, a terrorist attack, into something more akin to an act of war. Never mind that when our boys wanted to fight in Europe, they had to sign up with England in order to fight the German. Ignore the fact that we were not AT WAR WITH ANYONE when the attacks happened. It has been reduced to nothing more than a date. Similar to the Battle at Gettysburg, or the Battle of Bull Run.
I wonder if after Pearl Harbor people would say things like "We will not forget." Or was it something we learned from the events of Pearl Harbor. Did everyone then take it for granted that it would always be remembered and always be honored and a day to be spent in memory? I don't know. I do know, that I would feel horrible if 60 or 70 years from now, I were around to see that people treated today like just any other day, with just maybe a small mark printed in the calenders, maybe some specials running on the history channel (if they don't destroy the channel completely with their insistence on running reality tv shows like ice road truckers). I don't want to see that happen. I don't think anyone does
So as much as it annoyed me at first, I think we have reason as to why we should keep telling everyone that we will never forget. Because our country has a tendency to move on and, not forget, but rather ignore, some of the events in our past. We move on and don't keep the same emotional commitment to things. Fourth of July has turned into nothing by an excuse to party, and many don't know the emotional toils the men went through so we may have barbecues and fireworks on that day. Many only know a basic "this is when we won our independence from England" (which is VERY inaccurate). So I think it's important that all of us remain adamant about ensuring that no one forgets. Not for any military reasons, but so that it doesn't just become another day. Another day with some random historic event for our country printed on our calenders along with Canadian Boxing Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas... the list goes on. I don't see there being a risk anytime TOO soon of it becoming just another day. But I look forward to when my 8th grade class has kids, and how those kids are taught about it, and when they are adults, and have kids of their own, how will they be taught about the event? Will it just turn into another day on the calendar then?
I know I will not forget (with the obvious exception of Alzheimers or dementia or senility when I'm older). But what about our country as a whole? Will one day future generations do what we believe to be unthinkable? Forget?