On the eve of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, President Obama addressed the American public last night on ISIS, terrorism and the world we have live in now.
As today is the 74th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, it’s important to remember that it was another moment in which America entered a new, more dangerous world – just as we did on September 11, 2001.
It may be surprising to some that American in the pre-Pearl Harbor days was much different than what it became after World War II. I’m not just talking about the realization that there are evils in the world or the technological innovations that arose from the war.
Before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, we were, in essence, isolationists. Not to the extreme of the Chinese or anything, but America was an oasis. We were separate from the problems of the rest of the world and very reluctant to enter, what was known then, as the war in Europe.
There was a whole movement, a large one, to keep us out of that war – and it was working. The attacks at Pearl Harbor changed all that. We entered the war and, fighting in tandem with our allies, the Axis powers were defeated years later.
Where the attacks of Pearl Harbor eventually led us.
But nothing was the same. We were no longer isolationists and, instead, became a superpower, surpassing the British Empire and leading to our distrust of the other emerging superpower, the Soviet Union.
We became a citizen of the world. We became the protector, looked to by some to be the side of right against wrongs of other powers.
It’s not too far of a stretch to say that Pearl Harbor, which put us into World War II and transformed us into a superpower, would eventually lead to our fighting in Korea and Vietnam to protect the world against Communism, and now to battling terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and, to some extent, Syria. Even when an ally, such as France is attacked, we are not isolationists.
Pearl Harbor started us on the road to where we are now, both good and bad. The attacks remain one of the most transforming events in our nation’s history.
The attacks of Pearl Harbor should not be forgotten, which is a concern because many of those who were at Pearl Harbor or fought in WWII are leaving us now. It’s the nature of history that some events eventually fade into the past.
But Pearl Harbor was more than significant. It changed all of our lives.