Today we think back on the horrific events that will live with us forever: Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Although the images have somehow now grown to be 71 years old, they still haunt us. Burning ships, airplanes exploding on the tarmac, sailors swimming in water covered with oil.
One of Amsterdam's own -- Pfc. William Hasenfuss Jr. -- died in the attack. The 20-year-old Air Corps mechanic was killed at Hickam Field, Hawaii. The airfield was struck at the same time Japanese bombs were falling on U.S. ships in the nearby harbor.
Hasenfuss was one of many casualties that warm Sunday morning. The assault killed 2,335 Americans on military duty and 68 civilians.
It also crippled the U.S. Pacific fleet, wiped out nearly all the aircraft stationed at Hickam Field, and hurled the nation into World War II.
Few of us think about that as we drive past the Hasenfuss memorial on Upper Locust Avenue, Amsterdam. We would be wise not to forget.
America went on to win the war, but at a terrible price. Japan lost, shattered by defeat and nuclear devastation most of us cannot imagine -- even in today's post-9/11 world.
From the ashes emerged an economic opponent as tenacious in the marketplace as on the battlefield. This, too, is a challenge the United States must continue to meet with knowledge and hard work.
The personal sacrifices and national commitment to military victory following the Japanese attack are being remembered during services locally and across the country today. It is important to pay homage.
Another lesson we learned from Pearl Harbor is that there are better ways than war to settle differences.
Again, in today's world, that message may be lost in the mission.