A man who escaped from East Berlin to the West with his family during the height of the Cold War said he considers freedom the most valuable thing a person can have.
He also said that freedom can truly be appreciated only by those who have lived without it.
Coming as it does from someone who had to live without freedom, that’s hard to argue with.
We would add, however, that freedom can also be appreciated to the fullest extent by those who have had it and lost it, or who have made extreme sacrifices in order to keep it.
One example: Those who survived the Bataan Death March, then spent years suffering in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp during World War II, must have had an appreciation of freedom that cannot be matched by someone else who hasn’t had it taken away in such brutal fashion. Those who were consigned to other POW camps during World War II, or in the Korean and Vietnam wars, also have it.
It was 71 years ago today, on Dec. 7, 1941, that America became an involuntary participant in World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. One of Cumberland’s sons, Victor Tambolleo, remains entombed in the USS Arizona along with more than 1,100 of his shipmates beneath the waters of of Pearl Harbor. Others who survived that attack still live around here.
World War II was already well under way in Europe and Asia. Many Americans wanted no part of it, and it’s hard to blame them. Only those who’ve experienced war first-hand, or who’ve had loved ones killed or maimed in war, can truly appreciate the horror of it.
President Roosevelt said Dec. 7, 1941, was “a date which will live in infamy,” and as long as there are free people, whether in America or anywhere else, that is how it should remain. Many today are still angry about Pearl Harbor. However, Sept. 11, 2001, is another date that should also live in infamy, because it provides the same lessons.
We pledge to remember Pearl Harbor and those who were there on that terrible day, just as we ought to remember all Americans who have struggled over the past 236 years to gain and preserve the freedom that many of us do appreciate — but which, sadly, many do not.