A date which will live: `Pearl Harbor In American History`
BOOK REVIEW Ellen Rosenberg
A DATE WHICH WILL LIVE
Durham , North Carolina : Duke University Press , 2003 It is a commonplace among historians that every generation must write its own history . In a compact and remarkable volume , A Date That Shall Live , Ellen Rosenberg shows that with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor , the generations that experienced Pearl harbor and those that have followed have done a remarkable job of writing and re-writing that history
Rosenberg begins with the speech from which she has drawn the title of her book [banner_entry_middle]
, Franklin D . Roosevelt ’92s six minute address to the joint session of Congress on December 8 , 1941 . Throughout this address Roosevelt emphasized ’93infamy ’94 ’93treachery ’94 ’93an unprovoked and dastardly attack ’94 as he summoned his nation to war (12-13 ) Much of the speech was an effort to recall two American events which had acquired iconic significance in the nation ’92s cultural history : Custer ’92s Last Stand and the Battle of the Alamo , both of which had become rallying cries for determined American efforts not against accurate views of the nation ’92s enemies , but against enemies we created to inspire our actions (13-14 ) Notably , Roosevelt was keenly aware of his own history . A generation earlier , Woodrow Wilson had taken the nation into World War One by calling the country to a crusade to make the world safe for democracy . In the disillusionment that followed that ’93Great War ’94 Wilson ’92s historical standing with the people had come under scathing criticism for leading the nation into a war with goals that history had shown could never be achieved Rather than risk a repeat of those mistakes , Roosevelt did not mention that aims that the United States had or the lofty sentiments that might be evoked . In stressing the narrow emotional basis for his position Roosevelt protected himself from a similar fall in reputation later (12
Drawing on the emotional chords that Roosevelt sounded in his speech the nation mounted a campaign to galvanize the collective conscience The Moral Branch of the U .S . Army sought the cooperation of Hollywood and placed director Frank Capra in charge of making movies to show America ’93why we fight ’94 Capra used the well-worn ’93good-guys-versus-bad-guys ’94 formulas of westerns and gangster movies as his model . He made films that showed a struggle between good and evil in which the key was the character of the peoples involved the Japanese militaristic , ruthless , and bent on conquest and the Americans peaceful and democratic (22-23 ) Although films such as Wake Island and Bataan pictured American defeats at the hands of the Japanes the emotional evocation of these films was unquestionably a call to the traditions Roosevelt had alluded to in his speech (21-24 ) This turned the phrase ’93Pearl Harbor ’94 into a metaphor for a renewed frontier struggle , a call for international vigilance , the need for a vast military establishment , and a need to constantly stand tough and united against real or… [banner_entry_footer]
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