December 7, 1941-a fleet of Imperial Japan, undetected by the American Navy, approached Hawaii, then a territory, not yet a state, and destroyed the better part of America's battleships in the Pacific. By a miracle no American aircraft carriers were present. America having avoided the World War for two years was now in it. The attack came without declaration of war. Our possessions in the Phillipines were soon attacked and taken over in the greatest defeat of American arms since the Civil War. The British fortress of Singapore was destroyed in the worst surrender of a British garrison since maybe ever. Australia itself would be threatened. The entire AngloSphere tetered on the brink of ultimate defeat in every theatre of the globe. Yet, it is Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany that are no more.
There are now no men living who remember Belleau Wood. But Pearl is still within living memory. Incredibly, Pearl Harbor is now temporally more distant to us than the Battle of Little Big Horn, was from American's of that day. But surprise in war never goes away.
When we look at the American economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it is comforting to recall the aftermath of December 7, 1941.