I wonder. Is there ever a time when a tragic event stops eliciting strong emotions and becomes just another historical footnote? If so, how long does that take?
It seems to me that the urgency that used to surround remembering Pearl Harbor has eased somewhat in recent years. Perhaps because so many of the people who actually witnessed it area gone and that strong emotional connection is weakening.
In the not too distant future most of the people who were alive when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor will be dead, and then the remembering will be done by people of my age group, who were born just as the war was ending. Pearl Harbor touched us only in the stories told to us by our fathers and our grandfathers, and I’ll admit that the story did not affect me as deeply as the memory affected my father and my grandfather.
The full impact of what happened on December 7, 1941 didn’t hit me until I visited the memorial in Pearl Harbor when we took a trip to Hawaii. Actually seeing the place, standing where the Arizona still lies beneath the water, and watching people drop flower petals on the water made it real. Even our daughter, yet another generation removed from the reality, was deeply touched. We stood there, arm and arm, and wept.