When I was a boy in Buffalo, N.Y., my parents would go to church every Sunday. And afterwards, they liked to go to a restaurant -- The Park Lane, in Delaware Park, where their wedding reception was held and where they later liked to take the whole family.
One day when I was in middle school -- maybe even high school -- we all went there for Sunday dinner. And while there, my parents stopped whatever conversation we were having, got our attention, and pointed out the table where they were sitting on the day when the news came ... the news that Pearl Harbor was attacked: December 7, 1941.
The news, they said, just seared everybody in the room, jolting people out of their chairs when somebody exclaimed, "We have just been attacked!"
This remembrance, this story that they were sharing with their children, was my parents' way of burning into us kids' minds just how serious it was. It was my parents' way of telling us that the attack on Pearl Harbor, just approximately 13 years earlier than that Sunday dinner, was something that I should never forget. They were saying, "You may not quite remember it, but your parents will never forget."
I was too young, only 1 year old when the attack occurred, so, no, I could not remember it. But I never forgot it, thanks to my parents sharing that story, that moment of their lives. And each time I went back into The Park Lane restaurant, I always looked back over to that table.
That was then -- a time when our country, within 30 years, lived through World War II, a presidential assassination, a civil rights leader being gunned down, a presidential hopeful's murder, and the Vietnam War.
This is now -- terrorists attacking our country on Sept. 11, 2001, school shootings at small elementary schools in small communities and large universities, and space shuttles exploding.
With so many "newer" national tragedies, it might seem as though December 7, 1941, is slowly being forgotten.
Oh, not fully and truly, mind you. I bet most Americans have heard of Pearl Harbor, and know that it was serious. But ask a young person today if they know the precise date of the attack. So many seem to not know. And, yet, this is a date that every American should remember, no matter their age.