At a moment so long ago it reads as if it should start 'in a another galaxy, far away,' on this date in 1941 (= before 73% of all people on earth right now were born), 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.
If, as some social historians have argued, World War II marked the emergence of the United States as the first among equals in the community of nations and signaled a new direction and level of involvement by the (relatively young, in comparison to other, established, nations) North American democracy in the rest of the world, we must, if we are true to ourselves as Americans, see the ongoing war in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, as, in many respects, a continuation of a conflict whose roots are nearly seventy years old but whose themes are as timeless as the foundations of our Republic.
While today we should pause to remember those in the US Military who lost their lives on "A Date that Will Live in Infamy" let us remember as well, those half a world away whose sacrifice and separation from their loved ones is just as real and as profound as for 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 last resort to abandon our dreams and our hopes now.