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EDITORIAL: Pearl Harbor remembered

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Tuesday marks the 69th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. This  editorial was written by Cannelton News Editor Bob Cummings and published Dec. 6, 1960. At that time, the county was home to hundreds of World War II veterans. The number of living vets who fought in the war are far fewer today, but the relevance of Pearl Harbor Day remains. Cummings’ editorial is published here in its original words.

Cannelton News Editorial Published Dec. 6, 1960

Many memories will slip back 19 years on Wednesday of this week. On that date, Dec. 7, 1941, our United States entered World War II. We entered it while the smoke of a stricken naval base at Pearl Harbor was still rising from the hulks of ships beaten down by the dive bombers of Japan’s sneak attack. We entered it as Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the day as one that “will live in infamy.”

Well do we remember how we first heard of the nip bombing. We had returned to our home between Cannelton and Tell City from a Sunday dinner at the Lynch home in Cannelton. We had turned on our radio (no one had televisions in those days) to listen to a Sunday afternoon pro-football game in Chicago. Soon after getting the game, there was a break in the program for these fateful words, we’ll never forget them, “Pearl Harbor is under attack. Bombs are falling from enemy aircraft and considerable damage has been done to naval and land installations there.”

Throughout the afternoon and evening we heard expansions of that first report. Our nation was at war.

Every person who was living then, who sent sons and daughters into the armed forces or joined in the massive war efforts at home, remember vividly events in their lives during the terrible four years that followed. Americans died in every sector of the world. In the end, the great power of the United States and our allies had swept through to victory.

Yet at no time since have we known peace. In those days our principal enemies were Japan, Germany and Italy, Japan and Germany were the strongest; Italy was knocked out of the war, then Germany and lastly Japan.

Today, Germany is divided, Italy is a united nation but not powerful militarily and Japan is one of our great bastions, as an ally against Communism.

Russia, who is 1941 was fighting on our side, was then, as now, our truly greatest enemy. Even when fighting with us, the Reds were preparing to eliminate our way of life, if they could and if the opportunity ever struck.

There have been many changes since Dec. 7, 1941. Hawaii, where our war began, is a state. So is Alaska. In ’41 our nation was made up of 48 sovereign states. Now it has 50.

In December of 1941 only scientists had any idea atomic action would be presented to the world before the war’s end. Today we not only have that, we have hydrogen bomb potentiality; jet airplanes; ventures into outer space; television and many other great scientific advancements.

And today, Russia is still our greatest enemy. We aren’t in a shooting war. But we are in a war of survival. Yet, as we look toward the Russian threat, there is another that raises its head as an even greater danger to our nation’s survival. It is Red China, another of our World War II allies that today would wreck us. Even Russia is beginning to fear the great Red Asiatic force.

Thus, as we near Pearl Harbor Day, and recall that we survived the holocaust it launched, we must remember that victory in the four years that followed did not erase our national danger. Today, we are not fighting. That is true but the threat of Red action against us is strong.

Militarily we are stronger than we were when Japan struck at Pearl Harbor. We do not know if we are as strong otherwise. For in the 19 years since Pearl Harbor, our desire for personal welfare may have grown above our desire and love for our country.

Certainly there is abroad in the land a dangerous attitude of disrespect for authority and things essential to our nation’s well being.

We, not anyone else, will not know until a showdown whether that disrespect has grown to the place where we will refuse to make the sacrifices in the future that we mustered to fight off the Axis threats in 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945. If we cannot return to a spirit that will bring about the will to make sacrifices in times of danger, we will be lost. For, as we see it, at the approach of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, one of these days we are going to have to prove our ability to fight off danger to our way of life if it is to survive. Because Russia, China, or both are going to force us into it. Make no mistake about that. We survived the Japanese threat of 1941 but can we survive the greater and more dangerous threat that comes from the communistic nations in our world today? God help us, if we are not equal to the challenge.