Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7

I just noticed the date. December 7th. The day that will live in infamy. On television they are showing "Pearl Harbor" and "From Here to Eternity" while the last remaining survivors relive the day they can never forget. It has been seventy years but for those who were there, it was only yesterday.

As a child we visited Hawaii. It was the late 1960's and the rush to develop and exploit the islands was in its infancy. I will always remember my father, a WWII veteran describe the significance of the Punchbowl, the volcano turned into a cemetery and seeing the Arizona memorial from a distance. He wouldn't go out there. I think he was afraid there might be someone in there he knew. I remember thinking if the volcano were to suddenly erupt, would it rain coffins all over the city?

Too many of us have forgotten the lessons of Pearl Harbor. The world does not love the United States like they did. We have been lucky. Except for 9/11 we have taken the war to others, never suffered the wounds on our lands. On this day, as on Veteran's Day or D-Day, we as Americans need to look back and remember. Remember those who took the words of the Declaration of Independence to heart - "We hold these truths self evident...all men are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

But our happiness is not necessarily those of others. If we force our form of democracy on other countries are we allowing them to experience their own pursuits of happiness? Once upon a time, our government practised a policy of non intervention in countries that were not in our hemisphere. Perhaps it is time to renew that policy.

Perhaps it is time for Americans to realize, we are not the world's caretakers. We have our version of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It does not apply to every person in every country. Each must find their own happiness. If it is the same as ours, wonderful. But do not forget the men who have died to defend the world's liberty. They gave the ultimate sacrifice and it is to them we owe our gratitude.

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