December 7th, 1941 saw the Japanese attack on America’s Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and as President Franklin D. Roosevelt would later opine, it was indeed a day that would live on in infamy.  The events of that day, and the tumultuous war the attack led America to enter, have been the subject of countless books, television series, and movies, but little attention is usually paid to life within the continental United States in those early, and dramatic, days of American involvement in World War II.

Here today in sunny 2017, I sit between not one, but three large computer screens I’ve placed adjacent to an even bigger picture window overlooking the woods that surround my house.  I’m sipping coffee and digging through three notebooks worth of scribbled information about attacks that took place on American soil during the second Great War, and although our nation is currently embroiled in multiple conflicts around the globe (some which are currently stalled in a bloody stalemate) I couldn’t feel safer or more secure.  Despite being at war, we here in the continental United States might never know it – the fighting, the dying, the fear… it’s all a world away.

This level of certainty and comfort has been developed over hundreds of years of American service members taking the fight to our enemies right at their front doors.  American troops fly, boat, and parachute into the worst fighting our globe has to offer, and while combatants from our fifty united territories have become a staple of war fighting around the globe – none of us have ever lived to see a similar invasion, occupation, or even skirmish in the streets of our own cities.  America’s homeland feels safe, secure, and detached from the reality of war… insulated by our powerful military, global allies, and political discourse.  Of course, terrorist attacks do occur, but in a nation so broad, with a population so huge, they’re usually just blips on the radar… still so far away and so uncommon that it’s hard for many of us to perceive them as real threats to our own wellbeing.

This sense of safety isn’t a bad thing – it’s the incredible payoff born of generations of men and women fighting and dying on our behalf.  It’s not a winning lottery ticket, it’s a 401k we’ve been paying into since our nation’s very inception… but things didn’t always feel so safe.  In fact, for a long time there was little separating American defenses from those enjoyed by other world powers – and even less certainty that the first forty-eight states of our Union were out of the reach of our enemies.