Tomorrow is Pearl Harbor Day.

For the folks who experienced that day of horror and fear, the day obviously means much more than it does for today's generation.

Unlike Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and were responsible for a plane loaded with passengers crashing into field in Somerset County, the attack on Pearl Harbor was done by a nation determined to conquer us.

Only our resolve, unity, and self sufficiency helped us survive not only the Japanese, but also against a German war machine which had relentless hunger to conquer the world.

We must never forget Pearl Harbor Day and how it forced us into a unimaginable four-year war. Certainly we're in conflicts today in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have tinderboxes throughout the globe like in the Middle East and Korean Peninsula.

Today's conflicts are not like the war fought by the "Greatest Generation." During that war there were rations of certain foods, gasoline, car tires, and many other commodities.

World War I was supposed to be "the war to end all wars," but the attack on Pearl Harbor showed that we still had enemies with leaders desperate enough to spill a sea of blood in an effort to bring us to our knees.

It didn't work.

Tomorrow at 11:48 a.m. (7:48 a.m. Hawaiian time), which coincides with the time the first Japanese bomber dropped its arsenal on the Hawaiian port, there will be a Pearl Harbor service at the World War II monument along Route 209 in Lehighton. The event is sponsored by the Lehighton United Veteran Organization. Some veterans of World War II, who vividly remember Pearl Harbor, will be in attendance.

There's never a good turnout of people for the annual service. We hope this year will be different, but we doubt it.

Too few people who attend Memorial Day ceremonies. The attendance at this year's Veterans' Day Parade in Palmerton was extremely disappointing.

More important is that our leaders don't forget the lessons of Pearl Harbor, World War II, and even Sept. 11.

During World War II, we survived by having our own energy (today we rely on the Middle East), our own factories making clothing and ammunition (how many steel plants and clothing factories exist in the U.S. today?), and by making individual sacrifices.

Right after the war had ended, there became a public demand to find out who was responsible for America letting its defenses down that such a terrible thing as Pearl Harbor could have occurred.

President Harry Truman announced on Aug. 30, 1945, that he will not order court martials in the Pearl Harbor disaster. He said the entire county shares in the blame.

As some Congressmen set up a clamor for military trials to shed more light on America's greats defeat in arms, referring to Pearl Harbor, the president said, "I think the country is as much to blame as any individual in this final situation that developed in Pearl Harbor."

"The country was not ready for preparedness," he said, adding, "Every time the President (Franklin D. Roosevelt) made an effort to get a preparedness program through the Congress it was stifled. Whenever the President made a statement about the necessity of preparedness, he was vilified for doing it."

Doesn't it sound like things that are happening today? Hopefully it won't take another Pearl Harbor, or something worse than Sept. 11, to make us realize we need to regain our strength militarily, economically, and even socially.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com [1]