77 years later, still on guard

Older Americans are well aware that two dates always should remain etched in the minds of the people of this nation.

Younger Americans obviously are aware of the more recent of the two dates: Sept. 11, 2001, the day that this country was victimized by a four-pronged terrorist attack from the skies, three of the four parts that achieved their goal and one that didn’t because of brave Americans who gave their lives to thwart it.

But younger Americans with a clear understanding of what’s oftentimes referred to as “9/11” might not have as clear of a grasp of Dec. 7, 1941, the date of the Japanese attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, even though those younger Americans no doubt learned some basics about it while in school.

Indeed, Dec. 7, 1941, is the other date that must live forever with this country, as it seeks to ensure its continued safety — and its continued existence. It’s a date no American loyal to this nation’s best interests ever should liken to being just a historical relic of the past.

Its importance and lessons never should be overlooked by younger people of other peaceful nations, as well.

Interactions with countries with different agendas — some friendly, some not — require a broad, deep-seated perspective, as well as a measure of caution, stemming in part from what happened on that Sunday morning 77 years ago today.

Leading up to that date nearly eight decades ago, America was duped into thinking that it didn’t need to fear an attack by Japan. This country’s leaders back then strongly doubted that Japan had the capability — by air or otherwise — to initiate an assault on this country or its vital interests, including Pearl Harbor.

The attack 17 years ago resulted from this country being caught off-guard, rather than having been duped into thinking that America was immune to a massive terrorist operation.

Something for the United States and other peaceful nations of the world, especially South Korea, to think about, going forward:

Despite the recent, seemingly friendly overtures from North Korea, South Korea should be wary and cautious — and not allow itself to be duped — about what might be the North’s ultimate intention. The date Dec. 7, 1941, should weigh heavily on the South in its new interactions with the North and its leader.

Interaction is OK; letting down one’s guard is not.

On that terrible morning 77 years ago, 2,400 Americans stationed at Pearl Harbor lost their lives, and severe damage was inflicted on America’s naval fleet based there.

Upon hearing about the Pearl Harbor attack, Winston Churchill, then-prime minister of Great Britain, which was under attack by German dictator Adolf Hitler’s forces, gloated that “Hitler’s fate was (now) sealed” and that the Japanese “would be ground to powder,” which essentially happened as a result of the atomic bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On Dec. 8, 1941, in his speech before Congress during which he asked for a declaration of war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Dec. 7, 1941, “a day which will live in infamy.”

What occurred that day must remain a reminder to the world to always be on guard against evil forces bent on inflicting destruction and death on others.