12/2/2013 2:01:00 PM Editorial
Pearl Harbor Day reminds us of the
infamy of war and honor of warriors
Thursday, Dec. 7, we commemorate the attack on the U.S. military facilities in Hawaii that motivated the American public in 1945 to support joining the war against Japan, Italy and Germany that had begun with the German invasion of Poland in 1939.
Of all the wars in history, World War 11 stands out as the most universal and most destructive war ever waged by human beings and one of the few that almost certainly was necessary to prevent the establishment of a totally tyrannical empire.
There can be little if any doubt that Adolf Hitler planned to create an empire ruled by what he viewed as a superior race and where the lives of those who he considered inferior would have had no value, liberty or security. It is rare for a war to exhibit such a dramatic distinction between good and evil.
There were infamous and barbaric acts committed by all sides during WWII, as there are in all wars. Virtually everyone acknowledges the evil of the European death camps where millions of people, primarily Jewish people, were executed by Nazi Germany's military.
Most people also recognize the evil of the Allied military's firebombing of Dresden, Germany, an ancient city with little or no military involvement or significance.
We have those among our present day leaders who seem ignorant of the realities of war and who seem ready to engage our young people in war whenever a potential conflict arises. They succeeded in Iraq and Afghan-istan, sought our involvement in Libya and now counsel military involvement in Syria and Iran. We are fortunate that our current president has exercised judgment and restraint, because unlike WWII, there is no prospect for victory when we become involved in wars where there are no clear friends or enemies, as is the situation among all the present Middle East and African areas of conflict.
War itself is filled with infamy, but among the young people nations send to war there is often honor. Young people fighting for their nation do so with courage and devotion to their countrymen and to each other. In the end, it is often more to each other than to their country and countrymen.
I recall a Marine Corp Sargeant Major I met while stationed at Balboa Naval Hospital in 1963. He was a veteran of WWII and expressed gratitude that he would not have to fight in Viet Nam because he didn't want us fighting against Ho Chi Minh, whom he viewed as an American hero during WWII. At the time, it was news to me that Ho Chi Minh had fought with American forces against the Japanese and had led forays into Japanese territory to rescue downed American pilots.
Men who have fought together, who have placed their lives in each other's care, develop a bond politicians and others who have never served fail to understand.
Those who've fought our wars have given either their lives or a period of their lives to preserve our nation, our values and our people. They deserve gratitude and respect for the devotion they have displayed.
There is honor among those young people who serve in our military, but honor in war itself is far more rare.
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is another opportunity for us as a nation to give some thought to the debt of gratitude we owe our veterans and to also give some thought to how we avoid becoming engaged in war unless it is absolutely necessary.
We owe it to those young people who serve in our military to avoid war whenever it is possible to do so. Their lives are too precious to be wasted trying to settle other nations' internal disputes.
We should restrain ourselves unless faced with a real enemy as we were in WWII.