The Daily Eastern News

Dec. 7th, never forgotten

Ben Leman, Staff Reporter

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Dec. 7, 1941. This day represents a turning point in not just American history but world history.
This infamous date has, what some could argue, more significance than Sept. 11.
Of course, Sept. 11 is significant in American history, but Dec. 7 can be seen as having more importance because it showed what people can achieve during adversity. Dec. 7 and the years surrounding this date deal with world peace and the threat to human freedom.
I am talking about the attack on Pearl Harbor. By 1941, Nazi Germany and the Axis powers had taken over almost all of Europe and the South Pacific. Great Britain was one of the last opposing forces that stood in Hitler’s way of achieving European domination.
America was and still is a young country compared to the rest of the world. Prior to World War 2, America was not considered a world power. We had two things going for us at the time: natural resources and manpower. Between World War 1 and World War 2 technology had evolved rapidly but military tactics did not stay on the same pace with the new tech.
The thing that made Dec 7, 1941 so important for America is that the attack forced American citizens to band together and fight fascism. American troops have a generally positive support chain with citizens today. But during World War 2, support had an entirely different meaning. American citizens pretty much gave up their livelihood for American soldiers.
Their everyday lives were surrounded by the war effort.
Nearly every able-bodied man left to fight for the war. They were not gone for 6 or 12 months. They were gone until the war ended. Men were pretty much absent from society, leaving women to work in factories to build tanks, bombs, basic necessities for the war effort.
Citizens were also rationed. Imagine not having coffee everyday. Or imagine only allowed to buy so much beef for the month. Recycling took on a new meaning in America as well. Every can, every price of scrap metal was a precious resource to the war effort. These metals would turn to make bullets, bombs, and other munitions.
This brought a sense of camaraderie and unity in America.
To me, this is why people call them the greatest generation. Coming out of the Great Depression and into a full-fledge war showed immense resiliency in life.
The attack on Pearl Harbor is more than a day of remembrance. This day represents the idea that anyone can persevere.
However, while anyone can persevere, what makes this generation the greatest is the fact that they were the only ones who had to during a foreign war. In a way, it was forced upon this generation to either sink or swim.
According to the National World War 2 Museum, 372 veterans are dying every day with only 620,000 still alive as of 2016.
These veterans gave up their lives to fight against hate. They deserve more respect than any actor or professional athlete and we don’t even know their names.
If you have the chance, ask to talk to them. They’ve gone through things most of us couldn’t comprehend.
If you read this column, take time to study up on Pearl Harbor and the war in general. Take time to grasp the meaning of the day. It’s more than just a date in history that happened “a long time ago.”

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The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.
Dec. 7th, never forgotten