Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yamamoto: A Voice from History

Isoruku Yamamoto (1884-1943), was the Naval Marshal General of the combined Japanese fleet during the early part of World War II.  Part of his early education included work at Harvard University where his most important educational accomplishment was gaining familiarity with the people of the United States.  A common assertion is that he gained the highest post at sea to keep him separated from radical militant forces in the homeland who viewed him as insufficiently aggressive.

There is a quote attributed to him which is widely mentioned and more than believable.  Upon learning the success of the attack on Pearl Harbor, he remarked: I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”  As an eye-witness to that historical period, I see his remark as understated if anything.  Every man, woman and child was absolutely committed to the US response to the sneak attack on our homeland.  It suddenly became the universal goal to seek redress for that assault.  Those citizens who had rarely agreed on any issue were absolutely united in their response to the atrocity at Pearl Harbor.

Recruiting stations had lines which stretched well around the block.   As the war effort progressed, women were removed from the cook stove and replaced men on the production lines.  Suddenly the word “essential” (for the war effort) entered every vocabulary to define only those purposes of labor which supported our mutual response to the attack.  Yamamoto’s fears were well grounded. 

That was then; this is now.  As we neared the 60th anniversary of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, America suffered another attack which came as an unexpected shock to the nation.  Although we suffered fewer casualties at Pearl Harbor (2402 total dead) we did not witness an equivalent national response to the loss of nearly 3000 lives on 9/11.  As each retaliatory action was formulated, it met an active opposition.  Certain factions had objections to foreign operations to run down Al Quaeda in various Mid-Eastern locations.  Many were unwilling to sacrifice what they considered freedoms for enhanced national security.  Rather than an all out response we found a government crippled by instances of partisan politics. 

We have even lowered ourselves to the point where we are considering allowing our avowed enemies to erect a “victory” monument practically on top of the site where fellow Americans were innocently slain.  Apparently, “outrage” has a “use by date” which has expired like that carton of milk you bought two weeks ago.  Lesser events; the USS Cole, the barracks in Lebanon, the Fort Hood massacre by Major Hasan, the first unsuccessful WTC attack and others, all, are virtually ignored as the assaults on America by Islamic interests continue.   It appears that the “sleeping giant” which Yamamoto referenced has not only nodded off, but is comatose.  Those patriots who recognize the threat from radical Islam are hooted down as racists, bigots, and warmongers.  Given the resources available to the United States to bring this outrage to a halt; the response is best described as tepid. 

Part of the research for this piece included a visit to the casualty lists from Pearl Harbor.  On one, each person is named, the site of death, rank, and the home town or state given.  Poring over the list it becomes quickly apparent that no state or region was exempt from casualties.  Every corner of America was seared with the pain of a lost loved one.  An especially tragic note was logged when the deceased had a close relative (brother, son, etc.) also lost in the attack.  This is, of course, typical of military units.  Being part of the armed services is an automatic exposure to people from random parts of the country who are part of your training, assignments, and finally become your closest and most dependable friends.  Regional differences are overshadowed by the central purpose of operating in defense of the United States and covering for each other.

Obviously, in the 9/11 attacks, the victims on the planes were from a wide variety of different countries (70) and states.  The Pentagon victims were also from diverse places.  Those who perished in the towers and the first responders both fire and police who lost their lives were essentially local residents.  The hardest hit were residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  Even today, many locals in your neighborhood will have a firm recollection of a nearby kid who lost his life or was injured during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Unless they live in the New York metroplex, it is unlikely they can relate that personally to the WTC attack.  In this regard, 9/11 does not have the same universal scope.

Even considering the previous observation, the question remains: why has this even more serious attack on our country been unable to match an equivalent commitment to response?   When FDR sought a declaration of war with Japan it passed 99 to l.  A few days later, a declaration against the balance of the axis powers passed unopposed.  Today, we find a war-funding bill in congress stalled by partisan bickering.  In 1941, such opposition would have been run out of town on a rail wearing nothing but tar and feathers.  Today, it returns to committee for further consideration.

Fortunately, we find a sea change in the national will.  It is not universal but it is emerging with strength and vigor to reformulate the national mind.  The “establishment” politicians are already feeling the heat of those who recognize our national purpose; who gradually assume more of the leadership roles and seek even greater responsibilities in elected offices.  Neither side of the aisle is immune from this onrushing tide of political correctness which has replaced common sense, and both sides are subject to rejection by the people who sent them there.

The time has long past that we, as a nation, recognize that 9/11 and Pearl Harbor are sufficiently equal as to require an equivalent response.  If our leadership fails in this regard, we can kiss this country “good-bye.”  To continue to mis-identify the threat from the radical Islamic cult is suicidal for both our citizens and the nation as a whole.  As a citizen, it is your responsibility to get involved in the governance of your country and oversee its return to sanity.  I’ll see you at the polls in November.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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