LIMA — The attack on Pearl Harbor is just a section in the history books for Will Roush’s American History students. But the Sept. 11 terrorist attack is something most have at least some memory of.
“I’ll tap into that prior knowledge,” the Lima Senior High School teacher said of class today on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. “We’ll look at what sort of situation and parallels can we draw from Dec. 7 and Sept. 11. The parallel is pretty evident even though the circumstances were much different. The emotional aspect is the same.”
More than 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,100 were wounded in the 1941 surprise Japanese attack on the U.S Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Elida High School teacher Kim Daniel also tries to make the connection between Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11. Before both attacks, Americans thought they were safe.
“We have always felt very safe here in our country because we have the oceans that separate us from the potential enemies,” Daniel said. “But then the attack by the Japanese and then the attack by the terrorists, we found out that we were not as safe here as we once thought we were.”
For the past several years Roush has taught about Pearl Harbor on the anniversary, saying that it garners more passion and buy-in from students than doing on a different day. He also always brings in the Navy uniform worn by his grandfather, a Central High School graduate, just after Pearl Harbor.
“To show the kids that World War II affected Lima,” he said, adding that it sometimes sparks students to wonder about their own family’s involvement in the war.
Today’s class will largely turn into a discussion and an emotionally driven writing assignment based on their prior knowledge of Sept. 11. After watching footage of U.S. battleships, students will talk and write about what they think the correct response is for such a surprise attack.
Continually going back and forth between Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11, Roush will ask if they would be angry if something like that happened today. And would their generation join the military in droves like the “greatest generation” did. He’ll ask them what the response should be.
“Generally speaking, the vast majority tend to fall along with what my grandpa said, ‘you go out and get payback,’” he said. “The emotional aspect tends to not change much at all through the generations.”
The teachers also make the connection to what happened following both attacks. Both lead to military action. Roush adds that both led to movements and emotions against first the Japanese and more recently the Middle East. In both cases, Americans united.
“Following the terrorist attack and the attack by the Japanese, the American spirit rose up and said we are going to do something about this,” Daniel said. “Before, the country was going on different paths. Then we rallied behind the military, support of government. The American spirit really rose up.”
Daniel’s military history class has discussed Pearl Harbor leading up to today. Talks have touched on what was happening in Hawaii prior to the attack and why it happened. Students examined both the historical and political aspects and why the U.S was surprised.
Today, Daniel’s students will watch video excerpts from the History Channel and other sources. He will also talk about Pearl Harbor in his psychology and economics classes.
“We need to remember the greatest generation,” he said. “Their service and sacrifices during that era has presented a lifestyle for us today to continue on as we are.”