Originally Published: December 7, 2003 10:10 a.m.
Mention Pearl Harbor to most people younger than 30, and they may say it's everything from a rock group to a line of clothing.
Today's rapidly moving culture makes it easy for succeeding generations either to forget or never really learn.
This year's anniversary of Pearl Harbor comes on a Sunday, just as the original event did in 1941.
Japanese airplanes launched a surprise early morning attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
When it was all over, the attack claimed 2,403 lives. It destroyed 169 American aircraft and damaged 159. They sank or damaged 21 ships. Of the 181 planes in the attack, the Japanese lost only nine fighters, 19 dive bombers and 5 torpedo bombers.
What most people don't know is that 17 of the 21 ships attacked at Pearl Harbor rejoined the fleet after recovery and repairs.
The sneak attack brought the United States into World War II, and "Remember Pearl Harbor" remained the rallying cry of troops through the next four years of bloody war between the U.S. and Japan and Germany.
It's difficult for any young person living today to imagine anything threatening the American way of life, but that was exactly the case after Pearl Harbor.
At the end of the war, 93,245 Americans were dead, and 78,976 were missing.
The death toll of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was 3,711 – far exceeding the toll at Pearl Harbor. The Iraqi war has claimed 443 American lives so far.
Already, people are calling for the U.S. to pull out and come home.
The war on terrorism is every bit as urgent as our fight in World War II. To relent is to invite another Sept. 11 within our borders.
How easy it is to forget – or worse yet, never know.