Honor Pearl Harbor by Remembering to See

It is 1,190 miles from where I live in Kansas to the Pacific Ocean. Pearl Harbor is 3,895 miles away. Yet, in my small Kansas town, we honor Pearl Harbor. We remember the lives taken and the survivors in a small city park. 

It is important to remember the attack, the horror, and most especially it’s important to remember the lives taken and those affected by the attack.

Remembering the Killed And Injured

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is a day when we pause to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. We remember and honor the 2403 people who were killed in the attack. Of those killed, 1,177 were from the USS Arizona. There were 49 civilians killed. The youngest victim was three months old.

Among the wounded were 1,143 service members and 35 civilians.

Remembrance Day

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is not a national holiday. Businesses are still open. People go about their daily lives. But we remember. Flags are flown at half-mast in remembrance. Memorial services are held. Not just at the USS Arizona memorial. Wreaths are laid, stories are shared, speeches are given, and photographs are recirculated. And articles rehash the whys and the wherefores of what happened and what should have happened.

Remember Pearl Harbor & Remember to See

We honor Pearl Harbor with a day of remembrance but there is something we are missing.

In hindsight, the United States could have, should have known, about the attack long before it happened. This article: Pearl Harbor Facts: 7 Things You Never Knew About the Attack makes a case that FDR should have anticipated the attack.

Willful Blindness

The fact is that FDR and all the military service people involved were human. We humans blind ourselves to things we do not wish to believe. Psychologists call this Willful Blindness.

We can’t notice everything. We can’t focus on everything. So our brains consciously and subconsciously filter what we take in. What we take in is the information that makes us feel great about ourselves. We filter out what makes us uncomfortable or unsettles our belief systems. This is true of every one of us. In fact, the more hotly we declare something is true the more likely it is that we are missing something. We are blinding ourselves to some relevant piece of information.

“Our blindness grows out of the small, daily decisions that we make, which embed us more snugly inside our affirming thoughts and values. And what’s most frightening about this process is that as we see less and less, we feel more comfort and greater certainty. We think we see more — even as the landscape shrinks.”

—Margaret Heffernan from the website Political Psychology.

Ask Questions

As we pay tribute and remembrance to the fallen, the victims, and we honor Pearl Harbor with a day, we should also remember and ask ourselves what are we not seeing. It’s as easy as asking questions: What should I know that I do not? What am I missing? Most importantly, what am I not seeing that I should?

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