Pearl Harbor“December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy…No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.” ~ President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Seventy-two years ago today, in an attack lasting approximately 120 minutes, more than 2,000 American service members were killed and another 1,000 were wounded.  The United States was at war.

By the time the war ended four years later in 1945, over 400,000 Americans had given their lives in battle…over 12 million Americans served in the military during WWII.

When I sit with those numbers, I am frozen…I think about the Soldiers of our current wars and how many I have been honored to work with…it’s a very small fraction compared to the number of WWII Warriors.

I know there is no way to compare WWII with our current wars…yet, I fight myself in doing so.  I want so desperately to recognize the sacrifices of our service members and their loved ones…in my eyes it seems as though, finally, 72 years later, we are on the edge of truly honoring the Warriors of WWII.

We admit so many of the heroes of WWII have passed away without the honor we owed them.  We recognize we did not embrace them in their painful returns to a life they no longer knew…a life thousands of them ‘faked’ until their deaths.  We didn’t know how to welcome these warriors home…

Did we know how to welcome home Korean War veterans?  Vietnam veterans?  Gulf War veterans?  Maybe not.  We know now.  We cannot ignore the pain, the loss, the questions being brought home today.

I believe that ‘absolute victory’ is a place where the community on the home front welcomes the emotional, physical and spiritual brokenness of our Warriors into our arms…a place where we slow down and listen…where we provide a pause in the hurriedness of daily life for someone to feel accepted and appreciated – regardless of how broken they may feel…I believe that is my duty as an American citizen.

As we are in the thick of holidays, time is probably the most valuable and expensive gift we can give one another…time to pause momentarily and smile warmly at a stranger…time to stop and let the fellow driver out…when we pause and give a few moments, we begin a practice of being present for others…you never know when a Warrior will be moved to share a memory and need a listening ear…you never know when you will be called to duty, so we must practice and prepare daily.

What a small sacrifice in comparison…