This is the 71st anniversary of "December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy" - the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.
President Franklin Roosevelt used those words to describe the attack in an address to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, asking for a declaration of war on Japan. On Dec. 11, 1941, Japan's allies - Nazi Germany and fascist Italy - declared war on the United States and the country became fully engulfed in World War II.
Today, there will be ceremonies on Oahu marking the day. Official tours will not run as wreaths are presented, military bands perform and a commemoration is held.
Tomorrow, though, regular tours will resume as the new Pearl Harbor Visitor Center serves as the gateway to the USS Arizona Memorial for guests from around the world. That solemn memorial marks the resting spot for 1,177 of the Arizona's crew.
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, 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 that 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.
(Portions of this editorial have appeared previously in The Maui News.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.