Thursday was Pearl Harbor Day, and it was observed quietly, but it is a day we never should forget.
It marked the entrance of the United States into World War II, but it also was an object lesson in what happens to a country, even a strong one like the United States, that isn’t always vigilant.
Pearl Harbor was attacked on a Sunday morning, when the base’s guard was down.
All the fighter planes were on the ground, like sitting ducks, waiting to be destroyed by the Japanese attackers. And they were.
The docked warships were not on guard, and they took a terrible pounding from Japanese bombs and torpedoes.
Even the radar outpost operators, seeing the incoming fighter-bombers on their screens, were unable to convince base commanders that what they were seeing was real — that Pearl Harbor was under attack. Only the Pearl Harbor carrier groups survived the attack because they were at sea while the bombing happened.
American planners were aware the Japanese were preparing to attack, but they greatly misinterpreted the significance of what they knew.
Pearl Harbor’s lesson is that we have to be always ready, always on a war footing, even if there is no active war under way.
We are right to be on guard against terrorists; we are right to be on guard against North Korea; we are right to be on guard against Iran. All these people have sworn to destroy the United States. And we know it can happen.
All we need to do to remind us of that fact is to remember Pearl Harbor, and to remember the attack on the World Trade Center that took place Sept. 11, 2001.
We must remember the lessons that so many good men and women died to teach us: Always be alert to danger, and always be prepared to defend ourselves.