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Patrick Gurnow, 9th Grade, Schroeder High School, Webster, NY

Why Should We Remember Pearl Harbor?

On December 7, 1941, the American Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor was attacked by Imperial Japan. The premeditated attack on America resulted in President Roosevelt and the American Senate declaring war on Japan. Japan’s allies responded by declaring war on America, thrusting our country into multi theatre operations in the Pacific, Europe, Africa and throughout the globe in the second World War. The raid on Pearl Harbor was the only major attack on American soil until the attack on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon on September 11, 2001. It’s shocking details are depicted in myriads of books and movies.

Pearl Harbor must never be forgotten. During the war, “Remember Pearl Harbor,” became a war cry for the fighting men and the people on the home front. I have spent time studying the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many claim they know what happened at Pearl Harbor but no one who was not there on December 7th trying to survive while Japanese zeros strafed overhead ,can truly know the events that unfolded. Many don’t know the great toll of human life that one battle took. A staggering 2,400 lives were lost at Pearl Harbor.

American children and children all over the world must never forget Pearl Harbor and all the battles of World War II. World War II had been raging since September 1, 1939, contrary to popular belief that Pearl Harbor was the start of the war. Beliefs like this do not reflect true remembrance of Pearl Harbor and the entirety of World War II. We do not dedicate enough thought to the sacrifice that the young men and women of a great generation went through.

Remembrance means taking time to stop and think about the events that took place. It means saying thank you to the few remaining veterans of World War II. Recently I went out to breakfast with my parents at a local diner and as I sat down across the way, I saw an elderly man sitting down to eat his breakfast. I noticed, when he rose to leave, he placed a “Veterans of World War II” hat upon his head. Nobody seemed to take notice, so I rose from my seat to introduce myself to the man and say thank you for his service. People seem to forget history and they fail to take notice when a piece of history like that man stands before them.

I believe that Pearl Harbor, like many battles of World War II, is gradually fading to the background of history. Most people have heard about Pearl Harbor and have basic knowledge of the event, but every day a veteran passes on, every time an artifact is lost or forgotten, we seem to let Pearl Harbor and many other battles fade from our memory, shrouded in the mist of lost history. For this reason, I strongly believe that children should remember Pearl Harbor. We should take just a little time out of our busy days to take notice of the veterans and the artifacts that remain.

Next time you meet a World War II veteran or any one of our veterans, take the time to thank him or her for serving our country. Let him or her know that you have not forgotten his or her sacrifice and devotion to duty. We must not forget Pearl Harbor and the great totalality of life and machines that one battle consumed. Eighteen ships were lost, hundreds of planes destroyed, and 2,400 lives were taken with many more wounded. Such an astonishing battle was just the tip of the iceberg for what was the fate of America and the entire world.

Pearl Harbor brought an isolated nation, our United States of America, into the Second World War. What would history look like if Japan never launched an attack on Pearl Harbor? What if America entered the war eventually without being provoked by attack on its own soil? The American public might have given upon their support and backing of the fighting man if there was no attack on Pearl Harbor. America probably would have eventually intervened in the affairs going on in Europe and the Pacific but no one knows whether or not our support would have come in time; and that is assuming America eventually would support the allies. Britain could have been overrun by Hitler and his Nazi forces, Japan could have taken all the vital islands in the Pacific, and America could have been caught up in a full-scale land invasion of the American continent by not only the Japanese but the Germans, fascist Italians, and other nations that might have joined the Axis Powers.

In the long run, Pearl Harbor helped show we the American people that we could come together and unite as a nation to form a great war machine in order to strike back an opponent better equipped and more thoroughly trained than us at the time. As Americans, we never gave up; we never gave in. We entered the war in 1941 with very few trained men and what many considered to be inadequate, obsolete weapons. We must not forget and the children of future generations must not forget Pearl Harbor. The duty is ours and posterity’s to look at the past and learn from our mistakes!


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Student Travel – WWII Educational Tours
High school and college students, learn the leadership principles that helped win WWII on a trip to France or during a weeklong residential program in New Orleans. College credit is available, and space is limited.

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Visit the Classroom Victory Garden Project website to learn about food production during WWII, find lesson plans and activities for elementary students, get tips for starting your own garden and try out simple Victory Garden recipes!

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Make your own propaganda posters, test your memory, solve puzzles and more! Learn about World War II and have fun at the same time.

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