Dec. 7, 2015
Dec. 7 lives on in America’s history because it is one of the moments when time stood still. It was a devastating attack that caught us off guard and ill prepared. It shook our confidence. The next day, Congress approved President Roosevelt’s request for a declaration of war. America joined the fight on two fronts and led the allies to victory in Europe and in the Pacific.
There are many poignant stories about the Pearl Harbor attack. One of the most memorable involves the battleship U.S.S. Arizona. The Arizona was the most heavily damaged battleship on Dec. 7 and she remains submerged in Pearl Harbor to this day. A memorial stands over the ship’s remains to remind us of that day and has come to commemorate all military personnel killed in the attack. The memorial has seven windows on each side and on the roof, which represent a perpetual 21-gun salute. The structure stands tall on both sides and sags in the middle; representing a proud nation before the attack, a sag in the middle as the nation felt the impact of the attack, and a triumphant nation that defeated her enemy.
Following Pearl Harbor, America’s response included a massive military buildup that included mobilization of the Wisconsin National Guard. The 32nd (Red Arrow) Division wrote another chapter in its storied history, which built upon the combat success of World War I, where it earned its nickname, “Les Terribles.” Originally bound for Europe, the division was diverted to the Pacific were it defeated the enemy in the first offensive action on Papua New Guinea and would go on to serve 654 days in combat.
Today, the National Guard remains the primary combat reserve of the United States Army and the United States Air Force, and the nation’s first military responder for domestic emergencies.
On Dec. 7, let us remember and honor those killed in action at Pearl Harbor and honor our greatest generation for their service and victory in World War II. Let us also preserve our nation for future generations by remaining ready and never again being caught ill prepared by an enemy. This is increasingly more difficult in an era of cyber threats and terrorism.
I cannot predict the next moment when time stands still, but it will occur. We must remain steadfast in our preparedness and resolute in preserving our nation’s freedoms.