This week marked the 71st anniversary of the early morning attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. While this attack is often noted as serving as a turning point in World War II, it also served as an important turning point for our nation. As we take a moment to reflect on the sacrifice of those lost on our American soil and sea, that day and each day since, we must also remember that America’s best days remain ahead of us. The people who helped build and defend this nation — the Greatest Generation — still serve as a model for what our nation is, and can further become.
Though our hearts broke with the sudden shock and horror of the initial attack at Pearl Harbor, our nation ultimately entered World War II with a deep sense of preparedness. Answering our nation’s call, those who did not head off to war helped here at home, keeping our economy growing and answering the new demands and needs of our industries. As our heroes prepared and deployed for combat, another group of folks became heroes too, creating the weapons, ships, trucks and airplanes tasked with protecting our very freedom and bringing our brave soldiers away to war and back home safely. This is how the Greatest Generation earned its place in history.
Our successes on the battlefield were continuously met time and time again by the successes of our workers, answering the call of a nation in need of a new day, and of new industries. I’ve often said that when Americans make things, our nation becomes greater. As domestic manufacturing and domestic industries find success, our nation finds success. There is no stronger testament to that than America in the early 1940s. As a country, we would not settle for outfitting and equipping our troops with uniforms, weapons or machinery that were not made on our soil. We were going to send our soldiers off with gear made in the very same small towns many of them came from.
From the front lines of battle to the floors of the automobile, aerospace or textile factories, our nation bound together to lift our country up in a time of need. Some fought and some built, but all helped carry our nation. I love the iconic posters urging folks to continue their hard work to “Keep Producing” and “Keep ‘em Firing.” Our nation had fully embraced the very essence of its self-sustainability, and did so through the love of our troops and the honor of their service.
While our involvement in World War II did help to spark an industrial revitalization, the successes didn’t just end with the war. Our ingenuity and hard work not only helped rebuild our own economy, it helped to rebuild a destroyed, but now free Europe. This will continue to be our finest export, and one we must never discount.
When we show that pride in our country, and pride in the promises made to the American people, we help to highlight the very best of what our nation has to offer. The promise of care for our veterans, or of health and financial security for our seniors and Medicare and Social Security recipients, are all part of the very fabric of our nation that we’ve fought to protect. Threats from foreign enemies haven’t weakened our spirit or our resolve, and we must embrace that same dedication when protecting the programs our seniors and veterans and working families rely on. We owe it to all who came before us.
As we stop this week to think of the brave Americans lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and all who have perished in the name of freedom, we must also honor the sacrifice that all those heroes behind the scenes at home have made, and continue to make, as well. Because of them, our nation’s best days are ahead of us. If we embrace the very same steadfast and unwavering love of our country, we can help move our nation forward with a preparedness and power to achieve all that we can, even in the face of adversity.