12/09/06 — Called to courage: Today as in 1941, we have much to defend

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Called to courage: Today as in 1941, we have much to defend

Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Luther Saylors can still describe vividly the day Pearl Harbor was hit by Japanese bombers. He remembered thinking that the action that took the lives of so many and shocked a nation meant war.

And if you ask many of the men who were there at Pearl Harbor or who took part in any of the other pivotal moments in World War II, they will tell you that the battles weren’t easy and they weren’t without bloodshed. But, they would say, there was a greater good to pursue and a nation to defend. So, a nation — and a generation — gathered up its courage and did what needed to be done.

How stark a contrast to today.

This nation remembered Pearl Harbor the day after a bipartisan commission came forward with its recommendations on the war in Iraq. The gist of the document: Diplomacy and retreat.

There are some who say there will never be another America like the one that stood tall against the Nazis and Adolf Hitler — and the rest of the dictators and others who threatened the freedom of Europe and the world.

We had a lot less to risk then. The capabilities that would have allowed that war to really reach this nation’s shores were not there. It would have been a lot harder for an enemy to breach this nation’s security then.

We lost thousands of young men in that war. It wasn’t easy to fight — and it wasn’t popular when the idea was first broached to a nation that had gotten used to hearing about troubles in faraway lands and not worrying too much about how they would affect its future. We got involved to keep future generations free. We knew there was a bigger picture to consider.

And we were right.

Today that barrier of hundreds of miles of ocean as well as not-so-developed weaponry has been replaced by a world where one rogue nation could hold a superpower at bay with the threat of a nuclear weapon and a less-than-stable leader.

That’s why the politics of appeasement is a doctrine we should reject.

The world is not a stable place — and pulling inside this nation’s borders is not enough to protect us anymore. We can’t predict some of the enemies we battle today — and the implications of letting them continue unchecked are significant. Just think about Sept. 11, 2001. No one really thought about terrorists then. And in a moment, those were the words on everyone’s lips.

To keep future generations free and safe, we need a strong constitution and a dedication to doing what’s right. We need a proactive plan and the courage to get the job done right.

The new plan for Iraq can include some new approaches and ideas. Nothing wrong with that. But anything other than strength and determination to stand up for what we believe in — and a steadfast refusal to allow any tyrant, bully or crazy to threaten our future — is a mistake — and an insult to the men who died protecting us.

This is our generation’s call to courage.

How will we answer?

Published in Editorials on December 9, 2006 11:03 PM