Marking the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we cannot fail to remember another day of treacherous attack.
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Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack … Our first priority is to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks. … We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
And a few days later, addressing Congress on September 21, he explained the situation as he understood it:
… Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.
… we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.…
Almost 60 years earlier, on December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt, too, had become a war president and as such addressed Congress:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
… No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
One of the heroes at Pearl Harbor was Doris “Dorie” Miller, cook (and heavyweight boxing champ) on the USS West Virginia (one of the battleships that was sunk but eventually repaired and sent back to the war), who grabbed a fallen anti-aircraft gun and kept firing even as dive bombers were coming at him and putting torpedoes in the ship’s hull. Miller was awarded the Navy Cross by Admiral Nimitz personally, who noted he was the first “member of his race” so honored. He died in action in the Gilberts in 1943, aboard the escort carrier Liscome Bay. Manning Kimmel, the admiral’s son, went down with his submarine off the Philippines island of Palawan.
Men like these made that “absolute victory,” perhaps not inevitable, but most likely, as did the men who went after Osama bin Laden and persisted until they found him and killed him, as they have done to his deputies and his followers. Admiral Yamamoto went down with his aircraft in 1943, ambushed by American fighter planes following a radio intercept. At the crash site he was found gripping his katana.
Today, though, we can give some thoughts to those of our people who were lost on those days of infamy. Nearly 3.000 sailors and soldiers were killed during the two waves of Japanese attacks involving over 300 planes. In the attack on the World Trade Center, 2,600 were killed. Three hundred fifty New York City firefighters and 25 New York City policemen gave their lives to rescue and protect others during the attack. One hundred thirty military personnel and civilian employees were killed at the Pentagon.
We remember the great global war as one in which our nation was united and purposeful, and while this is a fair memory, we should not let the more ambiguous nature of today’s conflict enervate us or undercut our will to prevail against our enemies and preserve the last and best hope for a free civilization on this earth.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online