Today is Pearl Harbor Day. For me, as it is for many others, this day is more personal than other such commemorations.
You see, my grandfather's younger brother--Fritzhof Holm, of Clarksfield, MN--died on the U.S.S. Oklahoma. When my uncle Blair finally got the Department of the Navy to provide a headstone for the town cemetery a few years ago (as his remains are stuck in the wreck and cannot be recovered), I got to meet a man who knew Great Uncle Fritzhof.
Well, it turns out that he not only remembered the man, but that he survived the attack because Great Uncle Fritzhof got him out of the flooding compartment at the last moment. This heroism would be what got Fritzhof killed, but as ways to die go this is far from the worst. It's a death one can admire, for there are worse fates than death and not all deaths are equal.
Great Uncle Fritzhof would be one of many American soldiers, airmen, and sailors to die in combat that day. He would be the first cohort of many more to die executing the U.S.'s contribution to the Allied efforts in World War 2. The peace we've enjoyed--more or less-since 1945 came at the cost (paid in blood, bone, and fire) of millions of men like Great Uncle Fritzhof.
We are now again careening towards the sort of global warfare that Great Uncle Fritzhof encountered to his cost over 70 years ago. As the wise and principled attempt to prevent a third World War, it is wise to remember the past generations who had to deal with such an event. The peace bought by the lives of others endures only so long as those succeeding the buyers remember the cost and do the minimal effort required to keep so dearly purchased a peace.
There are forms of peace, however, that are worse than risking one's life--and dying--in a war like that of World War 2. Those willing to risk World War 3 seek to exploit the desire for peace at any cost by impugning the buyers of the present peace, falsely equating senseless butchery with necessary and just warfare. The other thing that today brings forth is that, yes, there are things worth fighting--worth killing, worth dying--for and only those who dream themselves your masters dare claim otherwise. Total Pacifism is for suckers; it's Narrative Warfare.