Some truths the same today as on Dec. 7, 1941

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Flags are flying at half-staff today to commemorate those who died on the first day the United States fought in "the good war."

Like old war films, our thoughts tend toward black and white -- we're good, our enemies are bad, and we must do whatever we can to stop them.

Some Americans were hesitating to take part in World War II until Dec. 7, 1941, made it clear: there were other people in the world who hated us and wanted to destroy our way of life.

September 11, 2001, repeated the lesson for those of us who might have forgotten the lesson or wished otherwise.

In 1941, the choices were black and white. We had to either respond with everything we had to keep imperial fascists in Tokyo, Berlin and Rome from taking over the world, or surrender.

As we live through our response to September 11, however, we tend to see more of the shades of gray, if not a Technicolor array of possible responses.

The case for invasion of Afghanistan was relatively easy to make; the Taliban in control had nurtured the Al Qaeda organization directly responsible for the September 11 attacks.

Iraq was another matter, and we're dealing with the consequences now. No question Saddam Hussein is an evil, murderous despot and deserves whatever justice can be meted out by the struggling new Iraqi government.

But nearly everyone admits Hussein had no direct connection to the September 11 attacks, and the order of the day is picking the least-worst method for ending U.S. involvement in Iraq.

We have the world's best military, and every member is a well-trained, well motivated volunteer. But we've already lost more Americans in Iraq than we did at Pearl Harbor, and some estimate we will have spent a trillion dollars on the war before we're done. Whether it was wise to invade Iraq, and what might have happened had we not done so, will be up to historians to debate.

But we must never forget that there are still those who hate us and want to destroy our way of life.

It was true on Dec. 7, 1941, and it's true today.

At the same time, there are people who are willing to give their lives to make sure our enemies aren't successful.

For them, we will always be grateful.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: