Remembering our heroes

Today marks the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

In 2006, Tom Brokaw, author of “The Greatest Generation” and former NBC News anchor, led the ceremonies on Oahu. It was an appropriate choice because it is easy to make the case that the generation that responded to the attack and won World War II was, indeed, America’s greatest.

The war and the surprise attack that began our involvement in it were defining moments for the United States and the world. After Pearl Harbor, millions of Americans still reeling from the Depression rushed to enlist to protect the country and save the world. The economic doldrums of the 1930s had not dulled Americans’ sense that our system provided the best chance for prosperity and freedom.

In Hawaii, the war years added more hardship to its residents in the form of martial law and forced internment of some of our citizens based simply on their ancestry and ethnicity. Yet, when given the chance, even those who faced internment stepped forward and volunteered to help fight the war.

The war molded many of those soldiers into leaders who would help build a true middle class in America. Leaders like Dan Inouye returned broken but unbowed to build a better country for their children and grandchildren. A new sense of democracy and dreams of a better life for all sprang out of the bloody battlefields of Europe and the Western Pacific.

So, today, as we honor and remember those first victims of that Dec. 7, 1941, attack, let’s also give thanks to all of those heroes of World War II who won the peace, secured our freedom and built our nation. As we remember our parents’ and grandparents’ generation, let’s say a silent prayer that we can be worthy successors to their legacy.

(A version of this editorial first appeared in The Maui News on Dec. 7, 2006.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.