At the end of the movie “Tora! Tora! Tora” (1970 film about the Dec 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor), Admiral Isoroku Yamamato comments, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” It is a great line, prescient in nature, but… Although the quotation may well have encapsulated many of his real feelings about the attack, there is no printed evidence to prove Yamamoto made this statement or wrote it down. William Safire traces its origins to the phrase dubiously attributed to Napoleon, “China is a sickly, sleeping giant. But when she awakes the world will tremble”. But the metaphor of the awakened sleeping giant was apt – and may well have been in Yamamoto’s mind. The admiral had studied, served and traveled in the United States and was well aware of its extensive industrial capability – as were a number of key Japanese military leaders of the day. Continue reading
My favorite comic strip is “Calvin and Hobbes.” If you are not familiar, it features Calvin, a preternaturally bright six year-old, and Hobbes, his imaginary tiger friend. The comic strip manages to infuse wondering (and wandering) on a cosmic scale into an ageless world of lazy Sunday afternoons, space adventures, and tales of befuddled babysitters, teachers, and parents. What I most enjoy about Calvin and Hobbes is that it reminds me of our capacity to be surprised, to imagine, and enter into mystery and wonderment. Calvin’s openness to the mystery of it all allowed him entry to even the theological arts where he mused about the combination of predestination with procrastination, finally concluding, “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die.” Continue reading
In June 1944, war raged across the globe. Allied forces from the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and many other Commonwealth countries opened another front on the War against Nazi Germany. Allied forces had already recaptured Saharan Africa, Sicily, and liberated Rome on June 4, 1944. Meanwhile in the Pacific, allied forces were already underway for an amphibious landing in the Mariana Islands of Saipan and Guam to begin June 13th. In midst of all this came the most remembered of the days in this single month of June 1944. Today we remember the Allied landings on the beaches of France.