A Rumination on Pearl Harbor Day

As I was talking with coworkers, I was reminded of today’s observance, something that had otherwise slipped my mind amid the other things I do day to day to day. Normally, I’m reasonably good at marking such events, having grown up in the family and part of the world that I did, so to have had the Day that Shall Live in Infamy escape me in such a way is…surprising and unsettling. For a moment, I wondered–had to wonder–if I was losing something else, the progress of my years slowing recall. (The old joke applies, I think, about not remembering what goes away as you get older.)

Here it is.
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by NASA Goddard Photo and Video is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

In the event, though, as I talked with my coworkers more, we hit on the idea that it is simply a matter of the passage of time. The attack on Pearl Harbor remains in living memory, yes, but less firmly so than before; eighty-one years is longer than many live, and many of those who were alive then cannot remember it–either because the memory is lost or because they were so young that the memory never formed. For me, it is a thing of my grandparents’ days–and I’ve only one of them remaining. For my daughter, it is even more remote, and I know that many of my contemporaries have children old enough to have children of their own, for whom the event is yet more distant.

Admittedly, I remember and mark many things that are older yet than the Second World War. I do not seek to excuse the lapse in attention. Thus I write this, recalling the perfidy perpetrated then and what it has led to, for good and for ill. And I note to others that they might well do the same.

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