December 7, 1941 is a day that will live in infamy.
Unfortunately for us, those brave men and women who retaliated to the Japanese terror attacks are leaving us at a rapid pace.
Fittingly, Jim Linder’s graveside services will be held on Pearl Harbor Day. The attacks on America’s Hawaiian-based fleet drew us into World War II that fateful Sunday morning.
Linder, who died this week at the age of 86, joined the Navy 10 days after his 17th birthday with the permission of his parents.
“Serving your country is the greatest honor in the world,” Linder said in an interview a year ago. “I didn't realize how much I loved my country until I got to serve.”
That resolve of what has become known as The Greatest Generation was ultimately the difference in the Allies winning the war. It was also the key underestimation that led the Japanese to attack the United States in the first place.
After saber rattling for months that included invasions and oil embargoes, Japan finally decided it needed to control Pacific seaports like the Phillipines and Hawaii. They knew that any invasion of the Phillipines would be quickly countered by American forces.
But Japanese leaders incorrectly reasoned that attacking the U.S. Naval Fleet in Japan would result in a lessened ability to respond to invasions. They also believed that America would be unwilling to endure a long, difficult war.
They expected to strike a blow against this world power and see us limp away and agree to terms favorable to their Empire.
Few plans have ever been based on more incorrect information.
Men like Linder, even as very young men, would never allow such an attack to go unanswered and allow terrorism to frighten them into submission.
"You always wondered if you were going to survive," Linder told me last year. "But the only thing that really scared me was not being able to perform my duties. Thanks to our training, that never happened."
He wondered if he would live. But all he feared was failing to perform his duties.
If Japan had known how many young men and women Linder spoke for when he said that, the attack would never have been sanctioned.
The blow that was intended to allow for the expansion of the Japanese Empire led to the harshest retaliation in the history of armed conflict and a long dark period in the history of Japan.
Jim Linder was one of many who served this country, willing to sacrifice everything to see the country survive and remain the greatest country in the world.
Page 2 of 2 - "It was the best way I could show my appreciation for being an American," he said.
After a long happy life, Linder died this week. When he is buried today on the anniversary of that fateful attack, he will join so many of the Greatest Generation who have gone before him.
We are losing them far too quickly.
It is up to us to honor their sacrifice by loving our country with the same sacrificial love that led them to serve and helped them win the ultimate victory over forces of evil in the world.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org