What December 7th Means to me

I was born in 1991 nearly five decades to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. So everything I think about that day has been learned over the course of my 25 years, but long after the attack.

To me, December 7, 1941 is one of the turning points in human history. And I don’t say this lightly. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a pointless and cowardly act that didn’t need to happen. A formal declaration of war would have forced the USA into WWII just the same.

But back to my original point. Why do I give such importance to that single day? It’s simple. The worst armed conflict in human history was not going well. It was going horribly wrong, as a matter of fact. On that fateful December day everything changed. Thousands of American lives were lost. The Pacific fleet was no longer the threat it was intended to be. But the American hand was forced. War was immediately declared, and the Americans were coming.

I still haven’t finished my point about the date in history. It’s a turning point because the United States had not used its might to change the war’s outcome one way or the other. There’s no doubt in my mind that FDR would have eventually asked Congress to make a formal declaration of war had Pearl Harbor never happened. Why do I think this? Because it wasn’t in the interest of the USA to sit back and allow Japan and Germany to continue to conquer lands. But there’s no way of knowing how long he’d have waited. There’s no way of knowing how much longer the war would have lasted. There’s no way of knowing how many more casualties there would have been. There’s no way of knowing if the Allies would have been able to come out victorious  I think many people take for granted that the Allies would have won the war no matter what, but I don’t. I’m not certain D-Day ever happens if Pearl Harbor doesn’t.

The other dates in recent history that stand on par with December 7, 1941 are June 6, 1944 because it was an actual turning point in the war and September 11, 2001 because the entire world looked at terrorism differently.

December 7 should be a national holiday or at least studied extensively in every class on this single day. Americans of all ages should learn as much as possible about this date that, in my opinion, significantly changed history.

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Today Should Be a Federal Holiday

And it really upsets me that it isn’t. For those who have no idea why I think today should be a holiday in America, on this date in 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked.

I’ve written about World War II before on this blog. I’ve previously said that I think June 6 (D-Day) should be a holiday. But no. In the decades since the end of the worst conflict in history, I’ve never even heard of Congress trying to recognize December 7 as a holiday. And September 11, another day I believe should be a federal holiday, has only been discussed in small numbers.

I obviously wasn’t alive on December 7, 1941, but I imagine that it felt much the same as September 11, 2001. I remember exactly where I was (Ms. Niezgoda’s 4th grade class at Meadows Elementary.) I remember not being able to go outside for recess that day. I remember my dad picking me up from school early. And I remember the news coverage. Technology of the 40s was not what it was in 2001, but whether it was over the radio or in the newspaper or from your neighbor, everyone eventually found out what happened. And I’m sure you’ve all heard the FDR speech at least once.

There have been many events and conflicts in the history of the United States. But how many really bring you back to that specific day? I would say December 7, 1941. June 6, 1944. November 22, 1963 (Kennedy Assassination.) And September 11, 2001.

There won’t be any parades and you may not see anything about Pearl Harbor on the news today, but that doesn’t change how important it is in the history of this country.