THE SKIES WERE clear. It was just another quiet Sunday morning on Oahu. Most businesses were closed because it was the first day of the week, and local folks were preparing to attend on as well as off-base worship assemblies…
The Japanese were aware of all of this—because they had been receiving intelligence reports from an insider living in the Hawaiian Islands. They therefore crafted a plan to strike Pearl Harbor on that particular day, Sunday December 7th, 1941—when they knew that the US Naval Base would be understaffed, largely undefended and vulnerable to attack.
At around 8 a.m. swarms of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base wreaking havoc upon civilian and military personnel, as well as military targets. Minutes later, one aircraft dropped an 1,800-pound bomb on the deck of the battleship Arizona. The explosive smashed through the ship and landed in her forward ammunition magazine. The detonation sank the craft and trapped more than 1,000 sailors and marines inside.
In a little less than two hours, the Japanese had either destroyed or damaged twenty ships and three hundred aircraft. They had decimated harbor dry docks and airfields around Ford Island. Worst of all, they had mercilessly killed 2,403 Americans in their surprise assault.
December 7th may seem like just another day on your calendar, but to many American citizens, that day—79 years ago this week—is almost sacred. It was the day our nation lost her innocence; it was the day our nation found her outrage. It was the day our nation lost many of her sons and daughters; it was the day our nation found her moral resolve.
I’ve never been to Hawaii, and I’ve therefore obviously never been to the USS Arizona Memorial, but I can go back in my mind’s eye and remember that awful occasion—at least through historical archives. I can read books (and I do), I can watch documentaries and true-to-life movies, and I can listen to the voices of those who actually survived and lived through that Sunday—and I can not only remember, but I can honor the memory those who perished and sacrificed themselves for our union.
Each Lord’s Day, each Sunday—I also go back in my memory of the Word (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23ff) to a far more terrible (and yet wonderful) tragedy. I remember the murderous plot against the Son of God (Mat. 26:3-4), and then reflect upon how my sins had a part in putting Him under the scourge and on the cross. I remember my Lord’s internal struggle as He pondered His impending death (Mat. 26:37ff) and grieve my part in that crimson episode. I remember His disciple’s cowardice and how they fled for their lives when He needed them the most (Mat. 26:56) and then I think about how I’ve deserted Him too—when I should have stayed and stood up with Him. I remember the voices of the angry mob as it called for Jesus’ death—and I realize that my voice could be heard in that cacophony too (Mark 15:13-14).
Sunday, December 7th, 1941 was certainly “a date in infamy,” and as an American citizen, I must not forget those whose blood stained the shores back at Pearl nearly eighty-years-ago. But every Sunday—every Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10; cf. 1 Cor. 11, 16), I must also not forget my attacks on the sinless life of the precious Son of God (Acts 2:22), and how that He, nearly two thousand years ago, rose from the grave on that Sunday never to die again (Mat. 28:1; Mk. 16:1-2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
THAT Sunday—I can never forget.
“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike