Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Yesterday was December 7th, 1941, "...a day that will live in infamy." November 22, 1963, "The President is Dead."

December 7th , Pearl Harbor Day. On the anniversary this year of the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan that led to the U.S. declaration of war against Japan, and soon thereafter, against Germany, there is not much mention that I notice anywhere as more an more WW II veterans fade from the scene.

The more recent event against the U.S. that rivals the Pearl Harbor attack is September 11th, 2001, where the World Trade Center's twin towers were each hit by a passenger jet loaded with fuel soon after the takeoff of each plane, and where the Pentagon was hit by another airliner with a fourth headed for Washington, D.C. but crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers fought the hijackers.

Both events mark very tragic events for the U.S. but the recognition for Pearl Harbor Day seems to be passed over more and more each year, and as a major historical event it should be more completely understood and acknowledged before it one day becomes so obscure that it becomes a footnote in a history book. Could you imagine September 11th every becoming an insignificant event from any perspective? It can be an eventual outcome with the public becoming more and more removed from the event and witnesses replaced by younger people who only learn about it.

Looking back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy while riding in a motorcade in Dallas on November 22, 1963, the anniversary becomes less significant each year. The people alive that day 46 years ago have become older and many have died. The family of JFK since that date continues to shrink due to death: Jackie Kennedy Onassis, John F. Kennedy, Jr. and two brothers of President Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy by assassination and Teddy Kennedy from cancer. As more people pass on, leaving fewer persons with any first hand information, the events gradually transform from what somebody saw or witnessed to what has been written and interpretted to be the truth.

Too many events that are part of the culture and history of the country seem to be replaced by whatever there is that distracts attention for people, and this seems more prevalent during bad times, with people looking for something positive and settling for anything distracting to take their minds away from what we have at any time in history. The interest in Tiger Woods is much more compelling that other news and yet it is of little significance to most of us. But it is a form of escapism that serves a purpose to many people who would rather not hear how our troops are doing or what is been proposed by elected officials to make life more expensive for any of us.

Theses are just some trends that continue and change the way people act regarding assorted events of the past. Just an observation of an erosion of the national memory and I wonder to what depth anything is examined these days in the context of local high school curriculum that hastens such a result and further dilutes the concept of one nation when it comes to the United States.