Historic dates fade, but memories remain clear

Saturday, December 6, 2014

While shopping recently, I mentioned to a couple of sales clerks that the date -- Nov. 22 -- was certainly one I well remembered in history.

The clerks gave me that blank stare that clearly indicated they were clueless on my comment.

So I quizzed them. Of course, neither could place any significance to the date until I mentioned the Kennedy assassination. They both then gave a nod of understanding though I am less than convinced they actually remembered.

But thus is the way of time and fading memories. As the calendar turns, other events of significance take their place in our memories and former events -- regardless of their historic importance -- fade away.

Which brings me to Dec. 7, 1941.

I have no doubt whatsoever that those same two clerks would have the same "deer-in-the-headlights" expressions if asked about that important date.

But I don't necessarily fault them. Time erodes all things.

But for those of us not yet born on Dec. 7 but of the generation who well remembers that date, it's sad that these events fall into the shadows of our memories.

It's hard to imagine now -- given the advantage of history -- that Dec. 7 is not nearly as remembered as it once was or should remain.

That date marked the beginning of what may well have been America's finest hour. We were tested as a nation and we prevailed.

Petty differences and personal priorities gave wave to national unity and pride. American exceptionalism was tested like never before. And through unimaginable sacrifice, Americans answered the call to freedom like never before.

Those lessons of history are not completely lost but they hold a much lesser pillar of importance than they once did.

And yet it's this way with all generations and all events.

I can only assume that the date of the Lincoln assassination was once engrained in the minds of all school children. Or the date of Gettysburg or other dates that shaped our history and our futures.

Rest assured, Sept. 11, 2001, will also fade over time as will other dates and events that are important footnotes in American history.

But for the Greatest Generation, Dec. 7, 1941, will remain forever a part of the fabric that makes this great nation.

I suspect at no time in history was this country more united, more focused and more willing to sacrifice than on this critical date in our history.

And yet, ask virtually anyone under the age of 60 or so today what this date means and you'll like get the same reaction I did.

With each passing day, we lose some of those remaining few who answered the call on that cold December day so long ago. Time waits for no man, I think I read.

So take the opportunity today when you see an aged warrior to thank them. Rest assured, they will remember this day.

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