Forgetting Pearl Harbor Day

Anthony Pignataro:

So I just got back from a week’s vacation and saw that still-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed yesterday to be Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day. “The morning of December 7, 1941 is truly a date that will never be forgotten,” he said in this statement. “On this day, we pay respects to our heroes in uniform— their sacrifices, as well as the efforts of those who continue to protect our liberties at home and abroad, will never be forgotten.”

Wow, two that’s two forgottens in a single paragraph — when a politician resorts to same cliche twice in a single paragraph, that means he’s dead serious.

Of course, it’s still just rhetoric. And I can report that it’s completely and totally wrong, besides.

Yesterday — the 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — I had a two-hour layover at Honolulu International Airport. The airport is attached to Hickham Air Force Base, which the attacking pilots severely bombed. I figured that since it was Pearl Harbor Day, there would be something around the airport that would in some commemorate it, or explain it or even just draw some small bit of attention to it.

Nope. Nothing.

Well, there was this: While waiting for my flight back to California, I sat at the bar of the Kona Brewing Company restaurant in the terminal. I wasn’t there long before another tourist walked in.

“It’s Pearl Harbor Day!” he said to the bartender. “It’s safe to fly, right?”

“Sure,” she said. “What’ll you have?”

In a way, we as a society almost have to forget about things like the attack on Pearl Harbor. This is a market economy, founded on notions like free enterprise and free trade. I probably saw a dozen JAL airliners parked at the airport yesterday, all glistening and fat with big-spending tourists traveling to and from Japan. The more we as a society “remember” combat actions like the Pearl Harbor attack (to say nothing of the murderous island-hopping battles and atomic slaughter that followed), we imperil that commerce.

And we as a society don’t want to do that, right?

DEC. 8, 2010

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