Today is the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the day that officially drew the United States into World War II, what President Franklin Roosevelt called “a date that will live in infamy.”
There was a news story today on the Bidens visiting the World War II memorial in Washington. Profiles on a few remaining survivors. Articles about that day in history. And there was this moving piece by Dan Rather who writes a newsletter I follow.
Mr. Rather was 10 years old that day. He is one of the dwindling numbers of people still alive today who remembers December 7, 1941, and what it was like to live through that moment in history. He writes:
“Perhaps it was living through those times, coming out of the Great Depression, and the knowledge of how dark a future can seem that has shaped my worldview. I often heard my dad calm my fears with his favorite words, “courage,” and “steady.” I try to remember what we had no choice but to face.”
He wrote that people feared the world would succumb to fascism, and it likely would have if the United States didn’t put all its might into preventing such an outcome.
What will people 80 years from now say about what’s going on today? Is this a turning point in our country, or will these events just fade away into anonymity?
Again Mr. Rather:
There will be a time when people not-yet-born will look back at this pandemic or the previous administration and not understand the feelings that we have had living through these trying years. It will be something they read and note. They will think about it in a way we don’t. Unlike us, they will know what happened next. And that means they will never experience the pits of anxious anticipation that reside in so many of our stomachs.
Today, many of us have another deep anxiety: that the United States is not helping save the world from fascism, but heading right into it. The strength of the authoritarian right is powerful, and it is real: stacked Supreme Court, repeated spreading of lie after lie, political obstructionism, extreme concentration of power, phony culture wars, guns galore, attacks on science, suppression of voting rights, destruction of women’s rights—all in the name of morality and rightness and Christianity and good Americans. It’s sickening and it’s happening right now, along with a pandemic that has killed nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. —almost twice as many as all the Americans killed in World War II.
Eighty years from now. What will people be saying about us today?