I was a music education major in college and my principle instrument was my voice. As part of the course of study, all the vocal performance instructors required each of their students to sing in various languages with clear dialect. I can remember talking to a friend of mine one day about how interesting it was to sing in German with all of the aversive relational history between America (most of the world) and Germany. My friend responded in an off the cuff fashion, “Well, it must be especially weird for you to sing in English too.”
Whether or not we’re students of American History and regardless of our cultural, ethnic, and religious affiliations, each and every American is keenly aware of the fact that America has had some very bleak moments throughout her past. This is true even from our nation’s humble beginnings and the bitter events of the Revolutionary War. England didn’t look too kindly on our efforts to fight for the cause of Liberty. The Red Coats were ruthless in their offensive to prevent the Continental Colonies from breaking free from the oppression of the King’s rule. It was truly a miracle that America won the war but it was not without the sacrifice, blood, and lives of many.
It would be a long time before there was another attack on American soil. On December 7, 1941 at 7:55am Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber followed by a swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes descended on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.
The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.” Infamy – the state of being well known for some bad quality or deed – an evil or wicked act. This was true! The events of that day and those that would follow, all the millions of people that would be affected, will forever live in infamy. It was truly a miracle that the Allied Forces won the war but it was not without the sacrifice, blood, and lives of many.
Unfortunately, December 7, 1941 is not the only date that lives in infamy. Even in our own time, we have seen and experienced merciless attacks on innocent, civilian lives by those who would seek to wage war on our country or its people. Who can forget September 11, 2001 and the cruel attack on the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan, New York City? This is a date that will forever be infamous! Like Pearl Harbor, it was not only a dreadful occurrence but it was a wake-up call that changed America and the entire world.
Currently, days that will live in infamy seem to occur on a weekly, almost daily basis. They range from active shooters in church sanctuaries during worship services on Sunday morning or prayer circles on Wednesday evening to vehicles running over pedestrians walking and jogging in the park on a sunny afternoon. They involve both foreign and domestic perpetrators and are each equally vicious, calculated, and devastating.
However, there is one reality that remains in check throughout all of the historical discourse of dishonorable actions and events against life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There are always the heroes and heroines that emerge in such instances. They are just as equally worthy of our remembering than the events themselves. In fact, their bravery and courage always help us to heal from and ultimately overcome these acts of cowardly cruelty.
We remember Pearl Harbor and every other day that lives or will live in infamy.
We remember those days that change America and the world. We remember all the millions that have been affected. We also remember those who choose to give life instead of taking it; those who would live in peace but answer the, sometimes unexpected, call to save life by fighting to defend it. We remember those first responders and anyone who responds to evil with good. We remember our military and those who continue to serve the cause of Liberty here in America and the world.