At a moment so long ago it reads as if that chapter of history should start with 'in another galaxy, far away,' on this date in 1941, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked by the Imperial Armed Forces of the Japanese Empire.
Their goal, a pre-emptive strike that would eliminate the United States' armed might from the Pacific theater so that Japan's Co-Prosperity Hemisphere ambitions would sweep everything before them, wasn't realized and the USA, awakened from the slumber of self-indulgence and indolence, reinvented its own industrial base and used it as the fulcrum to overwhelm the Axis powers of Japan, Italy and Germany.
In less than four years (and uncounted killed, wounded and missing in action on all sides later), the Japanese home islands as well as massive amounts of Western and Eastern Europe were in rubble and ruins. The map of the world was to change shape, if not size, for decades afterwards as ripples from the pebble in that pond travelled the surface of the globe altering, if not improving, the definitions of nationhood and redefining the aspirations of people and cultures.
Some historians have suggested that World War II signaled a new level of engagement and intervention in the world by the United States at a moment when that engagement was most needed; an engagement that continues to this day in many corners of the world whose names may not be familiar but whose threat to our way of life is not new.
Today across these United States Americans will pause to remember those in the US Military who lost their lives on "A Date that Will Live in Infamy." Here in Norwich in the David Ruggles Freedom Courtyard at City Hall, the Norwich Area Veterans Council is conducting a remembrance for state residents whose lives were lost in the attack. The remembrance begins at twelve minutes before one this afternoon to mark the moment seventy-five years ago when the attack on Pearl Harbor began.
Casualties on that day included 2,335 military members (2,008 Sailors, 109 Marines, and 218 Soldiers). Two Norwich residents died that day and the ceremony will specifically honor the memories of Store Keeper First Class Harry Carlson and Seaman First Class Mike Quarto, shipmates aboard the USS Arizona.
While we remember them, and all who died that day, let us remember as well all those in uniform everywhere today whose sacrifice and separation from their loved ones is just as real and as profound as those of the "Greatest Generation" who secured our liberties with their lives a lifetime ago. We owe all who serve our truest measure of devotion and gratitude.
We must resolve, because of their sacrifice, to double and, if necessary re-double, our efforts to maintain the position of the United States as the world's best hope for all seeking a better life for themselves and their families around the world.
We have lived for too many decades as the Promise of Liberty and Freedom to abandon our dreams and our hopes now.