December 7, 1941 – San Francisco
Wm. C. Jenkins MD, USPHS, had recently moved his wife Leona and five-year-old daughter Colleen to a flat on California Street while he completed his internship at the Marine Hospital. At about eleven that Monday morning, the first radio broadcast news reports we could hear described a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
Both Bill and Leona were at work and Colleen was at school, where a tag with her name and address was fastened to her clothing. The news reports were continuous and there was widespread concern that the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carriers would continue eastward to bomb mainland California. As a result, even that first night, our government asked citizens not to use lights in their homes after dark, unless they could drape their windows in such a way as to hide the light. Before long special dark blinds were available and required whenever the air raid sirens sounded. One hoped not to hear the thrum of airplane engines following the sirens.
Most of the Pacific Fleet was in harbor when the bombing occurred. The USS Arizona was sunk right where it was docked. It remains a memorial to those who died that day—-and oil continues to seep to the surface from its hull to this day. There is a memorial alter with the names of those who died there and the names of others who survived that day but chose to have their remains buried at sea with their shipmates. About three thousand died that day——“a day that will live in infamy” as President Roosevelt described it. And it launched the United States into the Second World War.
September 11, 2001 – New York City
Sixty years later on September 11, 2001 planes commandeered by Al-Qaeda flew into and destroyed the Twin Towers of commerce in lower Manhattan. About 3,000 people died that day. This act launched the United States into a war against Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today in the United States about 3,000 people died of COVID-19 the disease caused by a pandemic corona virus. Nearly that many died yesterday and will die tomorrow. How did we fail to declare war on this virus? We failed to make it a national priority and to act in a centralized manner. Heaven help us!