Day Of Infamy, Day Of Hope

(Original was posted on my blog December 7, 2002)
Update: I have added a clarification to the original post, and it appears below.

Today is the anniversary of the Japanese strike against Pearl Harbor. [Remember that I’m on the opposite side of the International Date Line from Sasha – AKH] After 61 years, there is still division over that historical event between Japan and the United States and within each of the two countries. Books claiming that FDR intentionally provoked Japan into starting a war and that he had advance knowledge of the attack, notably Robert W. Stinnett’s Day of Deceit and John Toland’s Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath, have attracted considerable attention. On the other side of the Pacific, Japanese remain divided over their nation’s role in the war. (At the moment I am unable to find examples of this on the Internet.)
When I was in hospice training, I was taught that no one ever recovers fully from grief. There will always be times when memories of a loss, whether over someone’s death or some other tragic event, will trigger feelings of remorse. What one who has suffered a loss must do is to recover to the point that the loss is manageable, when it no longer interferes with everyday normal life. Pearl Harbor, and WWII in general, provoke strong feelings – and strong disagreements – in both the United States and Japan, even among those who have no conscious memory of December 7, 1941. But this day has scarcely any effect whatsoever on relations between our governments or our citizens. The vast majority of us refuse to blame events of the past on those who weren’t there.
Wars do not always end with such peaceful results. In many cases, virulent bitterness is passed from generation to generation. Such lies at the root of the current war we fight against terrorism. Afghanistan and Iraq are only the beginning. Terrorism will never go away completely, but if we fight this war right we will fight every government that willingly aids and abets our enemies and we will be victorious, and if we do our postwar job right as we did in Japan, today’s enemies will be tomorrow’s allies.
Yesterday, Kyodo News reported that the Japanese government will consider amending its law to allow its Security-Defense Force to support US troops in Iraq. If only more of our old WWII allies could be so cooperative.
Clarification: The title should be interpreted as a contrast between two different days: the December 7 of past war and that of current peace.



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