To all of those who sacrificed their lives at Pearl Harbor, to their families, and to service men and women around the world today defending our way of life…..THANK YOU. – Billy the Coach
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
These were the first words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt announcing the attack by Japanese forces on U.S military facilities at Pearl Harbor. December 7th, 2011 will be the 70th anniversary of this epic event in American history. This historic milestone reminds us how dramatically the world has changed in 70 years, but also how fortunate we are that some things remain the same.
In 1941, it was truly a different world from the one we know today. The average American earned a salary of $2,050. You could buy a car for an average price of $925 and fill it up with gas for under three bucks.
The first McDonalds Restaurant would not show up until 14 years later in 1955. And not for another 10 years would the first company offer health insurance benefits to its employees. Think about how many corporations AND health care policy-makers would like to get a do-over on that one.
It is surprising for most people to learn that the origins of our decades old employer-based health care system had little to do with health, having been designed primarily to evade restrictions of wage controls imposed during WW II. In the beginning this system functioned fairly well, but as technology-driven medical care became increasingly sophisticated, the costs became increasingly expensive. If you follow these breadcrumbs forward a half-century, they will lead you directly to today’s health care entanglement of soaring medical costs, unaffordable premiums and employers struggling to remain competitive on the global gridiron of business.
While much has changed since that “date of infamy,” some things remain the same and always will. We still face daunting challenges as a nation both domestic and abroad. That which was designed with the best of intentions can still result in the most unintended of consequences. But as long as we respect our legacy of victory at any cost, nothing is going to stop us.
One other famous quote from the Pearl Harbor era might provide a valuable reminder and a much-needed boost of confidence as America faces her current challenges. Though some controversy surrounds its authenticity, Imperial Admiral Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of the Japanese Imperial Combined Fleet was quoted as saying about attacking Pearl Harbor, “We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve.”
You’re damn right Commander. You’re damn right.