I think that President Roosevelt's words resonate ("December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy") because the attack was undeclared and unprovoked - like 9/11. That makes the death of the sailors, marines and airmen somehow more poignant than "ordinary" (sic) dying in war. I cannot explain why, but I know that few veterans of WW II or Korea or Viet-Nam or our current Asian wars have asked to be buried with their missing comrades abroad, but almost every remaining survivor of Pearl Harbor seems to want to have their remains put there.

Some people have struggled long and hard to make the case that the United States "backed Japan into a corner" by establishing a trade embargo. What is always conveniently forgotten by the defenders of the Pearl Harbor attack is that the American embargo was put in place because the Japanese refused to end their atrocities against the Chinese. To many people in the United States a trade embargo was the very least that our country could do in support of the Chinese. People do very different kinds of stuff in wars, and what the Japanese Army did in China was as great an atrocity as the Nazi's murder of Jews, Slavs and other civilians.

The Japanese decision to attack the United States (and the German's completely inexplicable decision to declare war on the U.S. a week later) were both based on the same insane xenophobia that persuaded them that it really was OK to rape Nanking and build gas ovens for WW I German veterans whose grandmothers were Jewish - the notion that the mongrel Americans were hopelessly inferior as a matter of race. What is the great irony of the events that followed this day 70 years ago is that wisdom of the American Constitution's XV Amendment was finally put into practice. The hypocrisy of our country's having fought for 4 Freedoms in a segregated armed forces became too much even for a Missouri Democrat to bear.

 For further reading, see Executive Order 9981.

The one certainty about wars is that their results will be entirely unexpected.


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