You can count on one hand the number of events that changed everyone’s life — everywhere, forever.
What happened at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, is certainly one of those moments.
It forever should remind Americans that our way of life — who we are, what we stand for, our freedom — will forever remain at peril.
In less than two hours, two waves of Japanese planes devastated the U.S. Pacific fleet and destroyed most of the U.S. military planes in a surprise attack on the U.S Naval Base. More than 2,400 Americans were killed and another 1,100 wounded. Among them was Frederick DeLong, of Cridersville. He was just 29 years old.
Eight others from this area were also on the island of Oahu that day: Paul Stout, Wayne Rader, Ed Wallace and George and Virginia Sebenoler of Lima; Don Rhinock of Fort Shawnee; Jim Welker of Elida; and Fred Berry of Fort Jennings. For years, they would share their stories with anyone who would listen.
America was taught a lesson in a sneaky, cruel way on the “day that shall live in infamy.”
The United States had been caught off guard. Officials in Washington missed the signals that war was imminent, and never guessed Hawaii would be a target. The American public also was unprepared.
It was a lesson we were served again on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed jetliners full of civilians into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC.
Despite America’s great power, it is vulnerable to the enemies it has and the ones it has yet to know.
Today on this 76th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, we pause to honor those who lost their lives, those who survived and the nation that persevered.