by Clay Herrmann
This article is much more personal than most that I write. The thoughts may seem a little disconnected at first, but hopefully will cohere for you to some extent by the time you reach the end.
Mom and Dad grew up in Garland County, Arkansas, but I was born in San Bernadino, California over 57 years ago as an Air Force dependent.
When people ask me where I am from, I sometimes say something along the lines of “What do you mean?” Do you mean where was I born?” (I only lived in San Bernardino about five or six months before Dad’s next transfer to El Paso, TX, then to Germany, etc.). Looking at Google Earth maps and imagery of the location of the Jihadist attack against San Bernardino County employees at a holiday (Christmas?) party I found that the Catholic St. Bernadine Hospital (now St. Bernadine Medical Center) where I was born is about four miles north of the attack site. The home we lived in with neighboring fields and farms at the time, according to Mom, is apparently gone now, and the whole area of fields and farms is overcome by urban sprawl. But our home was located about four miles west of the jihadist attack site.
December 7, 2015, is an anniversary date for America and an anniversary date for me personally as I enlisted in the Air Force on December 7, 1981, 40 years to the day after the December 7, 1941 Japanese surprise attack in Hawaii . Yesterday I went by the home of Jeff Meek, Hot Springs Village Voice Managing Editor and picked-up/purchased a personally autographed copy of a book he authored. I wanted the book because I learned that my friend J.W. Childs, a past member of my Sunday School class at Hot Springs Village Bible Church and Pearl Harbor survivor is featured in it, along with 74 other World War II veterans that Jeff Meek interviewed for the book.
Seventy four years ago on this day someone I had the pleasure of knowing survived the sinking of his battleship on “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”. Trapped in a communications room during the attack, J.W. Childs nearly drowned in fuel oil … ““Five of us were standing on a ladder hoping to get out. The fuel oil got up to our noses and about that time somebody opened the hatch, said Childs. He went topside and saw attacking planes and fire all around. Childs shed much of his fuel-soaked clothing and ran along the fiery deck. Once he reached the armor belt of the huge battleship, he jumped off and into the fiery water surrounding the West Virginia. Childs swam to nearby Ford Island. He had no shoes on and cut himself as he crawled up onto the island …” (see pp 25-27 of Meek’s book for more of Childs WWII story)
Oh so reluctantly, President Obama, overwhelmed by undeniable and publically reported evidence, finally acknowledged yesterday that the attack in San Bernardino was an “ISIL” related “terrorism” event. As might be deduced from the content of his speech to the nation and from numerous ancillary remarks, the President’s greatest concerns in response to the murders of county employees in San Bernardino appears to be his call for the disarming (diminishing the ability of citizens to protect themselves and others) of as many Americans as possible, to seize upon the event as another opportunity to lecture America about it’s bigotry, and to denounce Americans who hold negative opinions about the peace-loving religion of Islam.
The day after the San Bernardino attack, the President’s Attorney General, Lorreta Lynch, was featured speaker at a 10-year anniversary dinner for Muslim Advocates in Washington DC. She heralded her Justice Department’s commitment to defending the civil rights of Muslims in America. She told her audience that her “greatest fear” was something other than jihadist terrorism against America as might be expected. Rather her “greatest fear” involves the threat of violence against Muslims, and she assured her Muslim audience that she stands with them and that under her leadership the Justice Department will vigorously prosecute on their behalf. There seems to be no equivalent zeal in the Justice Department to advocate and prosecute on behalf of the civil rights of Jews and Christians.
The day after the attack on Pearl Harbour President Roosevelt made his “Infamy” speech and within an hour Congress had formally declared war.
Less than four years after Pearl harbor, both Germany and Japan had surrendered, and their imperialistic ISIS-like ambitions to conquer the world were squashed. It has been more than three times that long since America was targeted for jihad on September 11, 2001. In the past we could have fought and decisively won three World War II’s in that amount of time. Yet in the war (to the extent that our leadership in Washington is willing to call it a “war”) against the ambition of muslim jihadists committed to the establishment of a world-dominating caliphate, no end is in sight.
For the sake of my five young grandchildren I hope that it is still possible for America to survive our decline from greatness and again embrace neglected principles that in the past made our nation a beacon of hope to the world in so many ways.