Now think about what it must have been like for the American families back home who were worried about their boys overseas. After all, despite the cutback in military strength following World War I, we did have large contingents of servicemen not only at Pearl but in the Philippines as well and all were now facing serious risk. Then add to those concerns the fears of any parents with children of military age, for they knew that war with Japan would require many to fight and die for America. And you can't leave out all the rest of Americans either, decent people who all knew that their life would be dramatically impacted in the days to come.
It just wasn't a good time for Christmas, yet Americans would put on a bright and cheerful face and celebrate, trying to hide their concerns and fears for the sake of those they loved. The celebrations would be many, but in the end the tears would flow as thousands upon thousands would soon start shipping out to military training and then off to war. And the following three Christmases would be similar as the war would drag on until mid-1945 with many of the survivors not setting foot on homeland soil again until 1946. And there those thousands and thousands who would never return.
But America was in general a much more devoutly faithful people in those days and they knew that they needed the Almighty's help if they were to weather the storm and live to tell about it. Yes, there would be hardships and yes, many would be wounded and many more killed, but the Spirit of America in a nation under God would forge ahead with the necessary resolve to overcome difficult odds. After all, fighting a two front war in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters was no easy task, particularly since the rebuilding and retooling would take time, during which it would look like America was losing. But the industrial potential went into high gear, validating Japanese Admiral Yamamoto's concerns that the attack had primarily awakened a sleeping giant since the Imperial Navy failed in eliminating our carrier fleet, which would live to fight the war in the skies while soldiers and Marines fought below.
Back home in Newport News, the local shipyard sprang into high gear, working around the clock to rebuild the Navy rapidly, building new ships and repairing damaged ones in record time. Detroit did the same by retooling auto plants for war with the massive production of tanks and armored vehicles, and aircraft plants throughout the land from the coasts to Kansas began to turn out huge numbers of fighter aircraft to fight the air war on both fronts. America was up to the challenge and met that challenge with determination and grit. And Christmas would live on each year as always, except it was more somber, more tearful and more heart rending, but Christmas would live on.
In this season as we celebrate anew the hope and promise of the Christ Child, pray that we can avoid another episode like this in our history. But, if it is unavoidable as sometimes it is, we must be ready and always prepared. In such case, the peace and love which Christmas is all about will help to sustain us. I leave you with a reminder of just what that day back in 1941 looked like in Hawaii. It wasn't pretty. Sometimes a picture of something we want to avoid helps give us the resolve to find another way. Keeping God as the center point of what we do can provide the impetus for making better decisions and impact the minds of those who would cause war.
On this day, we remember Pearl Harbor and may that memory help us to always be vigilant while we strive for peace. Peace, lasting peace, only comes through strength at Christmastime or anytime. May God bless us all.