From our All History is Personal Dept.: I have said this before, but it cannot be said too often: All History is Personal. Thus, I am able to identify December 7, 1941, as the most important day in my life, although on the calendar it occurred thirteen years before I was born. The events of that day happened to me! They are the proximate cause of who and what I became.
In “macro-history,” on December 7, 1941, an ancient imperial power attacked a late-adolescent of a nation, sending the world spinning out of control. In “meta-history,” everything that might otherwise have occurred did not occur, and a chain of events destined to occur, did.
Obviously, I was not killed or wounded or traumatized by World War II. I was not held in a concentration camp by a demented dictator, nor was I interned by the frightened prejudices of my own democratically elected government. Yet I am a product of the historical forces unleashed that Sunday in December 1941. I am a “baby boomer” who grew up during the Jet Age, the Atomic Age, and the Space Age, watching television, and attending racially integrated schools. I lived on or near military bases in a country that theretofore had eschewed a large standing military establishment. Later, I myself served in the Strategic Air Command, the single most lethal combat force in human history. I could be a Cold Warrior only because of December 7, 1941.
On this Pearl Harbor Day, do these things, especially if you are a “Baby Boomer” (born between 1946 and 1964): (1) remember and honor the members of the Greatest Generation who fought the war, and who are just about all gone; (2) think about how that day, December 7, 1941, changed your life, even though it occurred before you were born; (3) think about whether we as a generation about to be ushered out of the spotlight of history have used our December 7, 1941 birthright in the best way we could. That is, what sort of historical legacy do we leave, given where we started? Because, make no mistake about it, the bells are beginning to toll for us.
December 7, 2010 Tuesday at 3:05 am