Al Everson

Lest we forget, Dec. 7 is the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the air raid that forced a reluctant USA to enter World War II.

Eighty years may seem like a long time, but in the grand sweep of history, it is really quite short.

No doubt a few hardy survivors of the attack — an endangered species now well advanced in their 90s and beyond — will make the pilgrimage to Hawaii to remember what forever changed their young lives and abruptly took the lives of comrades.

Did we learn the lessons of Pearl Harbor?

The tragedy of Pearl Harbor was avoidable. It was unnecessary. There was no deterministic mandate from On High for the loss of more than 2,400 Americans.

Rather, what happened Dec. 7, 1941, resulted from failure to heed warnings about impending danger.

As far back as 1925, Gen. Billy Mitchell warned that the U.S. Pacific Fleet was vulnerable to an attack from warplanes. From what he saw and experienced in World War I, Mitchell became an ardent advocate of air power. He also called attention to the challenge of a then-ascendant Japan.

Following an inspection tour of U.S. bases in the Pacific Rim, Mitchell sounded public warnings about what could — and eventually did — happen, but his Paul Revere-like admonitions were largely ignored by the political and military establishment.

With uncanny prescience, Mitchell described what a morning raid on Pearl Harbor would look like, beginning with “bombardment, attack to be made on Ford Island at 7:30 a.m.” His timing was off by less than a half-hour. He further warned that the airfields on Oahu would be targets.

The brash Mitchell refused to be silent, and he brought down upon himself a court-martial. For speaking out quite frankly, Mitchell was tried for insubordination. A jury of fellow officers found him guilty and suspended him from active duty for five years. Mitchell left the Army. He died in 1936, before his prophecies were fulfilled.

Is what led up to the Pearl Harbor attack worth remembering?

Truth be told, America is probably in greater peril today than in 1941. We have external threats from would-be superpowers, while more insidious forces are destroying the nation from within.

Rising crime, urban violence, “entertainment” featuring gratuitous violence and human degradation, political corruption, extravagant spending to enlarge the welfare state, rising inflation, a failing education system, the breakdown of the family — you name it. All this and more spring from the absence of morality.

America today is in a moral crisis. Our very existence and survival are in danger.

“History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster,” Gen. Douglas MacArthur warned.

And, “We learn from history that we do not learn from history,” Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel wrote.


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