There are events throughout history that we must stop and remember. These are the days we need to take a few moments and put things into perspective.
Seventy years ago, thousands died at a relatively unknown harbor. Seventy years ago, a nation looked at horror of another country’s actions. Seventy years ago, a nation united.
I’m currently reading December 1941 by Craig Shirley – a 500-page book that looks at all thirty-one days of December 1941 and how those days changed America forever. On December 1st, 1941, America was still in the remnants of the Great Depression but things were starting to look up. Newspaper headlines were flooded with war news from across the world, but the Americans firmly stood in isolation aside from the Lend-Lease program and FDR’s other subtle programs that diverted resources to the British, who now stood nearly alone against the Nazi force.
Americans called the war across the seas as “the emergency.”
In 1941, Americans flocked to theatres to escape the trying times. Families dressed in their Sunday best to attend a movie. Movie tickets cost 10 cents. Sergeant York, The Maltese Falcon, A Yank in the RAF, Dive Bomber and Dumbo were released in 1941, along with the first tastes of film noir, Citizen Kane. On the radio, Bob Hope made millions laugh and Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller entertained with their big bands. Everyone smoked cigarettes everywhere. Football and baseball were the sports of choice and on their way to becoming national pastimes.
German U-boats had sunk an unarmed American freighter and Hitler even ordered U-boats to fire directly on American ships. But no one at the time really believed America would be going to war.
Isn’t history interesting in all its neat context? It is so easy to look back after seventy years and believe war was obvious. It is easy to scoff at an action or a moment in history and wonder how anyone could have thought such things.
Everything is clear through the lens of history. But it isn’t. We all look back with our own experiences, history and biases.
Let’s just take this day and remember all those who have sacrificed for what we have today. Let’s admit that we don’t know everything. We don’t know how history will look back on us now and with what context we’ll be looked upon.
Material Disclosure: I was given a copy of December 1941 by publisher Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review. This is not a review on that book. I’ll post a review soon, but as I’m a quarter into the book, I can already honestly say that I recommend it highly to anyone interested in WWII history or American history. Author Craig Shirley is in short, a brilliant writer and dedicated researcher. The amount of detail in this book is astounding. Get it. Really.