Today, of course, is the anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
At 7:55 a.m Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber emerged out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. 360 Japanese warplanes followed in a devastating attack on the unsuspecting U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. The U.S. Pacific fleet was nearly obliterated: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged; more than 200 aircraft were destroyed; 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded. Japan lost just 30 planes and fewer than 100 men. By the sheerest luck, all three Pacific fleet aircraft carriers were out of the harbor and at sea on training maneuvers, allowing the U.S. to use them to turn the tide of the Pacific war against Japan at the Battle of Midway six months later.
I always felt connected to the tragedy at Pearl Harbor through my father. At the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., Dad introduced me to a veteran who had survived the attack, and just shaking his hand was a moving experience I shall never forget.
1. I’m glad I’m not a South Korean ethicist, because this would make my head explode. More than 200,000 young men each year have to interrupt their studies or careers in South Korea to join the military, for mandatory conscription is seen as crucial to the country’s vigilant defense against North Korea. Men must enlist for about 20 months once they turn 28. Last week, however, pop star Kim Seok-jin, the oldest member of the global K-pop phenomenon BTS, turned 28 knowing that he could keep on singing, recording, touring and making money: South Korea’s Parliament passed an exception to the country’s Military Service Act to allow top K-pop stars like Mr. Kim postpone their military service until they turn 30.
There’s just no excuse for this classic “laws are for the little people” move, only rationalizations. “It’s a sacred duty to defend our country, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has to carry a weapon,” Noh Woong-rae, a senior lawmaker in the governing Democratic Party, said in a fatuous statement supporting the special treatment. The bill to craft pop stardom exception the Military Service Act was first introduced in September, after BTS became the first South Korean group ever to top the United States Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with its song “Dynomite.”
Here is the song that helps defend South Korea: