Pearl Harbor.

 

Versailles.

Gettysburg.

The Alamo.

They are all tributes to the miscalculations of mortal men.

The leaders of Japan believed that by destroying our fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they could force America to sue for peace. And that they would then be free to plunder the human and mineral riches of East Asia.

After defeating Germany and bringing an end to World War I, President Woodrow Wilson and the victorious Allies believed that by forcing a punitive Treaty of Versailles on the Germans, their nation would forever be unable to wage war again.

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee believed that by sending Gen. George Pickett’s division across a field in Gettysburg, the Union could be overcome — and would then leave the Confederacy in peace.

Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna believed that by wiping out the Texans at the Alamo, Mexico could retain possession of that disputed land.

Had Japan waited or abandoned the attack altogether, Germany might have gained the upper hand over England and Russia.

AMERICA ROSE IN UNISON

On Dec. 6, 1941, America was still divided about getting involved in a second war in Europe.

The horrors of World War I — with its generals who fought with a 17th century mentality — was seared into the conscience of our country, and thoughtful Americans knew that another global conflict would be many times more costly in blood and treasure.

But by the morning of December 8, all that sentiment had changed.

America rose up in unison and with rabid determination to destroy the Axis powers.

how different would life be?

It is a difficult thing to contemplate, but without Pearl Harbor, Europe might now be under Nazi control.

And America would be isolated between two of the most oppressive regimes — Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan — that have ever existed.

How different would our lives be?

How dreadful would they be?

When we think of Pearl Harbor and of all the sailors entombed in the Oklahoma and Arizona — and of all the service personnel killed elsewhere on land and at sea — we should remember that the human race is prone to miscalculations of many kinds.

We should remember that only a virtuous, vigilant and humble people can hope to survive the foibles of human nature.

And we should remember all of those who gave so much — so that we might enjoy the blessings of liberty.

Ken Dickerman, Jacksonville