Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 1941 vs. December 2011

We really needed to read this article written by Cal Thomas, who is a most respected American conservative, an author, a syndicated columnist and commentator.  It is a review of the book, "December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World," by Craig Shirley.   Thomas and Shirley really put a  finger on what we've felt all along was lacking in American society today.  How best to illustrate it than to compare and contrast the generation of December 1941 to that of December 2011? 

Those of us who are "baby boomers" know the former generation well.  They were indeed our parents and grandparents and they were wonderful role models to follow.  As children and even as adults we've enjoyed hearing the stories of how they coped with a world at war, rationing at home, accepting  the massive numbers of casualties  who  died fighting for our freedom. 

When Tom Brokaw wrote the book, "The Greatest Generation" he was talking about those who lived during that December of 1941.  He said, "I believe it is the greatest generation any society has ever produced."   Brokaw's premise was "that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do. When they came back they rebuilt America into a superpower."

That generation brought the country out of the Great Depression, and their work ethic, their patriotism and their drive to rebuild America is a far cry from 2011.  This December we find ourselves a weakened country, facing a weak economy, a reduction of our military prowess.  We have to read and hear about the "OWS Movement"- Socialists and anarchists who want to tear down America.  We have the "give me generation" relying on government money and feeling that they are entitled to the use of taxpayers money. 

Although we are not really fans of FDR, we must observe that in December of 1941 we had an old Democrat president in the White House, who was in a wheelchair, and infirm, yet he possessed an optimistic spirit.   His "Happy Days Are Here Again" campaign theme, renewed the national spirit.  In contrast, in 2011 we have young, healthy  American president who has apologized for the actions of the greatest generation, and has deflated our nation's spirit to unimaginable depths.   

As we face a threat never before known to Americans - the threat of Islamists who seek our destruction on our own soil, and the threat of Sharia law which would ignore and obliterate our Constitutional law, not all Americans have the same spirit as those who answered their country's call at a time of greatest need.

Cal Thomas has written a beautiful piece for this particular time of the year.  It is a thought provoking piece and it should spark the emotions of those who read it.  Rather than to cause  us to regret the loss of that American spirit which we once had, it should inspire us to strive to regain what with the right leadership we can once again become. 
Sister One
for Two Sisters From The Right

A December to Remember
by Cal Thomas


Seventy years ago this month, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and brought America into a war that had begun in Europe in 1939.

In his masterful new book "December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World," Craig Shirley takes readers back to a very different America. Through hundreds of stories and advertisements culled from newspapers, Shirley not only transports us back to that tumultuous time, but reminds this generation that denial about an enemy's intentions can have grave consequences.


Each chapter in the book deals with a single day of December 1941. We go to the movies with Clark Gable and Betty Grable, view the "cafe society" of New York, and listen to radio stars like Jack Benny and Walter Winchell, the acerbic columnist and powerful radio gossip.

The major players are all here: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Winston Churchill and countless generals and admirals, as well as other military and political figures familiar to any student of history. But, depending on your age, the real stars were our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

After the Dec. 7 attack, Americans rallied around a single patriotic cause -- the defeat of fascism and the salvation of Western democracy, an effort similar to the national unity displayed following the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11. The unity of 70 years ago, however, lasted a lot longer. Record numbers enlisted in the military. Many isolationists became interventionists. Even some conscientious objectors announced, in light of the Japanese sneak attack, that they could no longer remain apart from what was rightly cast as a fight for America's very survival. Though they refused to kill, many served vital roles in the war effort as noncombatants.

Amid the deeply human and moving stories of family loss are some funny accounts of government stupidity. Shirley writes that government polltakers in the 1940 census asked American men and women how many individual articles of clothing they owned and how many they purchased each year. The Los Angeles Times reported, "Census Bureau officials declare they have found the explanation for cluttered clothing closets in the American home; people just buy more than they need."

Intrusive government is not a modern phenomenon.

Concerning Russia, the American left in 1941 was oblivious to the intentions of our supposed "ally." Shirley writes, "...many on the American left were quite naive about the real nature of the Soviet state. Many liberals and intellectuals, who should have known better, perceived it as a worker's paradise; it was only after the war that the true horrors of Stalin's repressive regime truly came to light. The muck-raking journalist, Lincoln Steffens, famously asserted, after visiting communist Russia: 'I have seen the future, and it works' ..

To those for whom this is familiar territory, it is worth revisiting. For people younger than 70, it is worth discovering. This "greatest generation" was not necessarily braver than other generations; its men and women were simply imbued with a profound sense of duty.

That call to duty is evident in a letter from a young man to his father, which was typical, says Shirley, of the sentiment in December 1941:

"Dear Dad, There is a war on and I am now in it, but that must not be a cause for you to worry. Of course there is danger and there will be more danger to come but if I am to die a soldier's death, so be it. ... You must think of me as doing my duty to God and country. Be brave and show outward pride, that the mite of humanity you helped bring into the world is now a soldier doing his part of defending our great and wonderful country. ... You must pray, not only for me and others in the Army, but for the innocent women and children who will have to endure untold suffering from this fight for freedom of religion, speech and democracy. I am not afraid to die for this. ... Until then I remain and always, Your Loving Son."

December 7, 1941 may be a day that "will live in infamy," but that month, those years, that war revealed an American character still on display in our military today, though it's somewhat lacking in our civilian population.

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13 Comments:

At December 4, 2011 at 9:08 PM , Blogger ramcclain said...

Your lead-in, and the Thomas article, excellent, and oh, so true of that generation. Fortunately, at least now,there are still some in our military like that, although patently ignored by MSM, etc. I hope it doesn't take another terrible tragedy to wake up Americans!

 
At January 29, 2012 at 8:52 PM , Anonymous Portugal said...

This is an excellent piece of research held together by what are already known outcomes. In some places there is a doubling of information from earlier pages which essentially extends the month by a day or two. One can only wonder, even after more than 70 years, how this could have happened. It is a difficult book to complete though you always want to see what happened next.

 
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