‘I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.”

– Psalm 143:5

It’s not good to dwell on the past. Maybe that’s why history was one of my worst subjects, which is kind of ironic considering that newspapers record history.

In writing news stories, any reporter who has worked for me has been told to consider “What makes it news now?” However, that doesn’t mean that the past should be forgotten.

When we decided (admittedly, at the last minute because some other stories fell through) to do an article on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, staff writer Greg Geary quoted White County Judge Michael Lincoln and some of the county’s veterans on the importance of remembering our country’s history. Trouble is, we didn’t include much of anything in that article about the history of Pearl Harbor.

That didn’t sit well with me because having been born nearly 24 years after Pearl Harbor and not being a very good student of history, there’s not much there to remember. (If your recollection of what happened in Pearl Harbor primarily comes from the 2001 movie, don’t consider that to be a good thing.)

We had hoped to rectify that by interviewing a veteran from the county who was around to recall Pearl Harbor, but that didn’t work out. So we jumped at the chance to hear Harding University history professor Dr. Jared Dockery talk about that time period Tuesday.

His speech gave us some non-typical news articles for Thursday’s and today’s editions, since the only news-now aspect of those stories is that it was the 80th anniversary. It was a two-part history lesson that we hope has shed some light on the bombing for those who don’t know much about it and maybe provided some new insight for those who do.

Dwelling on the past often causes problems. We can get caught up in idealizing the glory days, which may not have had the same troubles we face today but had their own set of issues that often get glossed over. Or we can borrow from its troubles, replaying the hurts of yesterday instead of trying to heal from them.

We don’t need to live in the past, but we both need to learn from it and respect what has led us to the moment of time we’re in. Tragic events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which claimed the lives of more than a couple thousand U.S. troops, shaped our country and the freedoms we all enjoy. It was a pivotal moment in the development of the United States of America.

“Some of the great travesties have come at the hands of other nations trying to derail the freedom that we have in this country,” Judge Lincoln said. “And what a horrific event that was administered from the hands of the Japanese people on Pearl Harbor on a day that I think many have said would live on through history as a remembrance of us always being on guard.”

We can’t remember, though, if we don’t know what to remember. Hopefully, these stories have served as a reminder to those who know their history and an educator for those of us who don’t. There are definitely some things about the past that we need to let go, but Pearl Harbor never needs to fade away.

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