Editorial: December 7 should remind us who the enemy is

Smoke billows from U.S. ships hit by bombs during the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. (National Archives and Records Administration)

Smoke billows from U.S. ships hit by bombs during the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. (National Archives and Records Administration)

It has been 76 years since the Japanese surprised us with bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time. It has been a little more than 16 years since terrorists attacked us in New York, and Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11.

In the immediate aftermath of both attacks Americans came together. They showed their love of country, and the determination to defeat tyranny and evil. Japan surrendered less than four years later. It took a little longer with the 2001 terror attacks, but the U.S. effort never wavered no matter where Osama bin Laden hid -- he was hunted down and killed about 10 years after Sept. 11.

Americans didn’t care which political party you called home after those attacks. We were all Americans, we were all victims, and we all wanted justice.

Today, it seems like we have forgotten who the enemy is. North Korea, despite the best efforts of every president since Harry S. Truman, continues to acquire the means to cause great harm to our nation and its people.

North Korea has increased its ballistic missile tests recently, and experts say they now have the capability of launching a missile that can travel 8,000 miles, which would put all of the continental United States in range. We know they have nuclear weapons. We also know they are governed by an erratic leader.

Because of this threat, the chilling sounds of nuclear warning sirens are being heard once again in Hawaii as the state’s Emergency Management Agency reinstated monthly testing of its attack system.

On Dec. 7, 1941 2,400 Americans were killed and another 1,200 were wounded by Japan’s surprise attack. On Sept. 11, 2001, 2,977 people were killed and more than 6,000 wounded in the terrorist attacks.

How many would die if a nuclear bomb fell on Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, New York or Washington, D.C.?

How many would die if Phoenix was the target?

Today, 76 years after the attack in Hawaii, we live in a polarized nation, with lots of anger directed at fellow Americans disseminated daily. Perhaps it’s the internet allowing so much nastiness to spew forth from behind the anonymity of a keyboard that has led us down this path.

America does have enemies, and they are not your neighbors who disagree with your politics. It should not have to take another Pearl Harbor, or World Trade Center, to remind us of that.

We should be working together to see how we can address the challenges we face. And above all we should respect one another, even when we disagree, because the person you label a snowflake or a right-wing zealot today, just might be the one defending, or even hugging you after a tragedy tomorrow.