- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2006

My generation has been glorified as the “greatest generation.” Oh, yes, we were great… but only after the Japanese bombers struck Pearl Harbor.

For months, for years before that “day of infamy” — December 7, 1941 — even as Adolf Hitler marched across Europe … even as Hideki Tojo swept over Asia… we Americans were the debatingest, hesitatingest generation. Our nation was riven by bitter debate.

The isolationists, the American Firsters, fronted by trans-Atlantic hero, Charles A. Lindbergh, vehemently opposed President Roosevelt’s efforts to help battered England. It’s not our war, they proclaimed, loudly and incessantly.

Nonetheless, the day after the Pearl Harbor disaster, Americans rose as one to fight back and defeat Tojo and Hitler.

Our people eagerly rushed to enlist in the military forces and industrial support systems. They built cargo ships and warships faster than the Axis could sink them, and built war planes faster than the enemy could shoot them down.

We were unprepared for a worldwide war and early on took a beating. We lost an army in Africa, and the Japanese juggernaut was threatening Australia until the Marines, armed with 1903 rifles — yes, 1903 rifles — stopped the invaders on Guadalcanal.

Our perseverance, our industrial might, and the courage of our armed forces finally overcame the Axis in 1945.

Many of us World War II veterans hoped — some even believed — World War II would discourage, if not eliminate, war in our time. But it was not to be. We had to fight again and again in Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, the Mideast and other places.

Even so, our country was enjoying a relatively good life when a small gang of radical Muslims, who learned how to fly in U.S. training schools, seized three of our commercial airliners and hurtled them into the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center and into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. Courageous passengers forced the fourth kidnapped airliner to crash before it could ram the White House.

How did America react to this September 11, 2001, disaster? America was startled and confused… and reluctant to acknowledge the deadly onslaught was an act of war.

But some of us veterans who had experienced that 1941 “day of infamy” recognized the unprovoked attack for what it was … an open declaration of war against the United States, not by a nation but by radicalized adherents of a religion, by Muslims taught from childhood to hate us, and sworn to kill us.

We invaded Afghanistan, a Muslim country, in an attempt to kill or seize Osama bin Laden, leader of the al Qaeda terrorists who carried out the diabolical aerial attack We have yet to find him. We then invaded Iraq in our leaders’ belief this other Muslim country posed an imminent threat. Today, Veterans Day, we find our country in its most dire situation since World War II.

We are mired in Afghanistan, which sheltered al Qaeda and its leader, who has vowed to bring down the United States. We are mired in Iraq, where our leaders believed Saddam had hidden weapons of mass destruction meant for us.

And today we still face the sworn threat of bin Laden, and millions of Muslim radicals, to kill us, whenever they can — as they have already been killing Americans around the world, blowing up our embassies, troop stations, even one of our destroyers. Do you consider this situation an empty threat?

For the U.S., the situation may get worse. Muslim Iran openly hates us, supports our enemies, and is building the bomb. Pakistan supports us tentatively, but a threatening revolution could turn that vast Muslim nation against us and it already has the bomb.

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, we knew — we knew — Hitler and Tojo would one day attack us. We simply waited for it to happen. Today we know al Qaeda and its fanatical followers — radical Muslims, fundamentalist Muslims, brain-washed Muslims — are taught in their schools to hate America, and to kill Americans.

We can’t just wait for calamity to happen. It’s time to stop dithering and prepare our nation for all-out war.

I say call up the draft now, and make it an honest draft. Build up our depleted, overfatigued armed forces. I say set in motion now the key steps we took after Pearl Harbor to re-create the formidable industrial machine that helped us win World War II.

I say recognize now that we already are at war with the America-hating Muslims… a war I fear will endure for 50 to 100 years… a war we must win, or lose all the freedoms our country upholds.

Sam Stavisky, a veteran Washington newsman, quit working at The Washington Post to serve 34 months with the Marines in World War II, participating in five engagements from Guadalcanal up through the Solomon Islands in the drive to Japan. In 1999, he wrote “Marine Combat Correspondent WWII in the Pacific,” published by Ballantine.

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