Community Commentary: Pearl Harbor's lessons still apply today

I was born two years after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

My dad joined the Marines, and was in the war when I was born.

My life has been, to some degree, defined by this horrible time of war.

However, like tragedies in all parts of our lives, there is usually a learning process and good can come from bad. In remembering Dec. 7 this year, I plan to remember what America did to respond to a painful tragedy.

We took a deep breath. We (my parents and a lot of wonderful patriots) were ready to sacrifice and work hard to defeat a horrendous evil. Most importantly, Americans coalesced in a way that was unsurpassed in history.

We turned car manufacturers into tank makers in 30 days. We gave up butter and rubber. We sent our boys away and put their wives and girlfriends to work to build a superior force of weapons and support that had not been accomplished at any time in history.

What I am trying to say, probably redundantly (there are many more eloquent and capable than I), now is the same situation. Our country is in danger. The evil is not so discernible, but is nonetheless a tremendous threat to our existence.

We cannot stand still.

We must remember "The Day of Infamy" and remake that profound response. We must put our best minds in control. We cannot be seduced by nay-sayers. We must search out and elect those who are Americans and not seeking re-election for their party.

Most important, we must think of ourselves as Americans, not "haters of the other side." When we decide to work together, to fight the real evil of paying-for-power prevalent in Washington today, to abandon the vitriolic condemnation of the "other side," we will be the wonderful country we were, and can be.

How do we do it?

Look at my words. Words can change opinions and can motivate true patriots to speak up. Thomas Paine did it, so did many others. Become a sayer of truth and say what you believe.

Say it in church.

Say it with friends.

Join in groups that speak to this truth. Get motivated to protect our modern-day "Pearl Harbor" before the bombing.

It is your time. It is ours.

God bless America and what we stand for.

Get involved. For our children, for our country, for the benefit of the world as a whole!

STEPHEN JOHNSTON served for four years in the Army during the Vietnam War. An elder at St. Mark Presbyterian Church, he has lived in Newport Beach since 1956.

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