An Infamous Day

Wednesday December 7th, 2011 – Fox Lake, IL

December 7th. A date which will live in infamy. 70 years ago today, the generation who would become known as our greatest generation had their world turned upside down with Pearl Harbor. It has special significance with me because my grandparents used to always speak of it with reverence and respect. It rocked their world, and never did they forget it.

It was their generation’s 9/11, or vice versa. Everyone knew where they were when they heard about the attack, but how they heard it was completely different in 1941 than it was in 2001. My grandparents would tell me of how it was a lot of hearsay and rumors at first. Then the President came on the radio and addressed the public, and all hell broke loose.

My father had just turned four years old, and my uncle was born in January of 1941. My grandparents said life was difficult enough then, not only with two small kids but the hard times that were all still a very recent memory from The Depression in the ‘30s, and then a war started to throw a gigantic monkey wrench into everything. They said it was a shock.

I bet it was. I can only imagine the horror and added stress it must have been for people who were already struggling to carve out a life for themselves on a cruel planet. Families had to suck it up even more, but they did it. Why? They didn’t have a choice. They either did it, or died. My grandparents said it brought everyone closer together, and I believe it.

There were all kinds of inconveniences they endured, like gas and meat rationing, but it didn’t kill them, and everyone pitched in and were glad to do it. 9/11 was like that, but for way too short a time. There were American flags everywhere for a while, but that was it.

I know I’m sounding like my grandparents, but I have to say we’re soft to the core these days as a nation. We’re fat, lazy, stupid by choice and think we are owed a living because we’re Americans and we‘re some kind of royalty. We were just born here, nothing else.

My grandfather used to say that struggle wasn’t always a bad thing, if it makes someone work hard to overcome it. Hearing the stories of how old people used to walk for miles in the snow uphill both ways to a school where there were no heaters or computers is a joke now, and when I was a kid I was one who laughed the hardest. I’m not laughing anymore.

I’m wondering. What is life all about? The human animal is such a complex creature to figure out, and I can’t begin to do it. Would any generation have been the greatest if they had to endure the specific obstacles of the World War II generation? I have to think yes.

Human nature is human nature. I’m sure there were people who sucked it up, but I have to believe there were also whiners and complainers and those who sought refuge in booze or drugs or whatever else was available at the time. Individuals make individual choices.

I don’t know what to say other than I’m sorry Pearl Harbor had to happen and I send the descendants of the victims positive vibes. We’ve got enough problems to deal with now.

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