“Remember the Alamo” was the Texan’s rallying cry during their war with the Mexicans. The Mexicans laid siege on the small Texan mission and eventually massacred everyone inside. This lack of mercy served to unite the Texans against the hated Mexicans, justifying any act of retribution they could deliver.
“Remember the Maine” was the American rallying cry during the Spanish-American War. The Spanish unexpectedly attacked a battleship, the USS Maine, in the middle of the night, sinking it and killing many of the sailors on board. This act of treachery served to unite the American people against the hated Spanish, justifying any act of retribution we could deliver.
“Remember the Lusitania” was the American rallying cry during World War I. The Germans sank an unarmed British ocean liner full of American citizens in the Atlantic Ocean, killing many on board. This act of barbarism served to unite the American people against the evil Germans, justifying any act of retribution we could deliver.
“Remember Pearl Harbor” was the American rallying cry during World War II. The Japanese launched a surprise attack on the United States Navy’s Pacific Fleet, sinking several war ships and killing thousands of Americans. This act of aggression against a neutral nation served to unite the American people against the hated Japanese, justifying any act of retribution we could deliver, including the use of two atomic bombs on two Japanese cities.
In many parts of the world, people continue to hate their neighbor for acts of treachery committed centuries ago. They never forget! Even after many generations have passed, the hate is still strong enough that there is little chance that these people will ever speak civilly, let alone become friends. When one of these groups becomes powerful enough, they take the first opportunity that presents itself to seek retribution for all the past injustices. By perpetuating the violence, the hate lives on and becomes greater than either of the nations involved.
That is not the way Americans have traditionally treated their enemies, however. If you look at our current relationship with Mexico, Spain, Germany, and Japan, you will notice that they are now considered our allies. We have gotten to the point where there are very few lingering strands of hatred remaining.
I realize that I’m perhaps oversimplifying this entire scenario, but I do believe Americans have a short memory for acts of treachery leveled against them, and that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s because we were able to achieve some level of retribution for these terrible deeds, but whatever the reason may be, it’s quite remarkable.
Today I’ve heard many references made about December 7th being “Pearl Harbor Day” as I’m reminded to “Remember Pearl Harbor!” Most of us know what happened on that day 73 years ago, and some of us feel hatred towards the Japanese all these years later. However, Japan is currently one of our strongest allies, and when you consider how recently our two nations were at war, it is amazing. Japan robbed me of the three best years of my life from age 17 through 20, reminds me of how proud I am to be an American!