Typically, at N2K Sports, we’ll do an article commemorating a special event in sports history. Today holds so much more significance than any sports event possibly could. That’s because today is the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. Though the world has changed greatly and our relationships with other countries have evolved since then, it’s important to remember this day. It was the first attack on our country of that magnitude, and, until 9/11, it was the worst attack on our country’s soil.
The direct cause of the United States’ entry into World War II, Pearl Harbor held great significance as a prominent naval base in the Pacific Ocean. Just before 8 AM, Japanese fighter planes, bombers and torpedo planes attacked. They damaged eight ships, while sinking four of them, not to mention the damage they did to other cruisers, destroyers, and other military equipment. The most important losses, of course, were the lives of the Americans on the base. 2,403 were killed, while over 1,100 others were wounded. President Roosevelt was right when he said this would be, “a date which will live in infamy”.
But what does this have to do with sports? Well, they made up our country’s defense too. As clichéd as this sounds, they exchanged their jerseys for uniforms that held so much more meaning. Whether it was before, during, or after their time as athletes, these competitors understood what their country needed and were willing to make the sacrifices they had to. The great Cleveland Indians’ pitcher Bob Feller was the first athlete to ditch the playing field and enlist in the military. But he wouldn’t be alone. Yankees legend Yogi Berra, golfer Patty Berg, Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, the greatest Red Sox player of all time Ted Williams, and all-time great basketball coach John Wooden were among other athletes to defend our country.
Some of these men left by choice, while others were drafted. Some weren’t even great athletes or coaches yet before they served. But I believe that it takes something special to leave the notoriety of professional sports to defend America. Sure, sports weren’t nearly as big of an industry as they are now. Either way, it was something that was much more ideal than being sent to storm the beaches of Normandy or fight in the Pacific. It was something that was more important than hitting home runs or throwing touchdowns.
I appreciate all past and present military members for everything that they do. I believe that all of them should be honored in whatever way that they can. I just tip my cap to those who served in WWII, as we remember the awful tragedy that happened on this day. They were who truly made that generation America’s greatest.