A Day Of Infamy That Changed The Nation Forever

Last month the nation recognized the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and our entry into the Second World War. Prior to that day the United States was divided as to whether or not the country should enter the war that had been raging in Europe for more than two years.

But at the same time Japan had been at war in Asia for a decade as it expanded its imperial empire. However, we were not paying much attention to what was happening in Asia regarding Japan’s aggression. In fact, Japan had signed into an agreement with the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Italy.

Before that “day of infamy”, the United States was fairly isolationist with strong sentiment for remaining neutral. In fact, after the conclusion of the First World War and the conference in Versailles in 1919, the nation had retreated back to 19th century isolationism. The country was tired of war and getting involved in other country’s problems and wanted a “return to normalcy”.

However, the United States return to isolationism and refusal to join the League of Nations only ensured that another bloodier war would come. But on December 7 1941, that isolationism ended, perhaps forever. Four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States, honoring its agreement with Japan. That made President Roosevelt’s decision easier since he had wanted to join the war in Europe against Nazi Germany, but it wasn’t politically feasible until that day.

Within days after the attack on Pearl Harbor thousands of young men volunteered to serve in the armed forces to fight in the war. One of the first was Cleveland Indians star pitcher Bob Feller who enlisted in the Navy even though he was exempt from the draft because he was the main support of his family. The first member of congress to enlist was a young 33 year old representative from Texas named Lyndon Johnson. Another young man who enlisted in the Navy was a young recent graduate from Harvard named John F Kennedy. Another young man who enlisted in the Navy later, leaving Yale, was a son of a prominent Senator George H W Bush from Connecticut.

Almost immediately America’s industry quickly ramped up to produce the material necessary to fight the war as civilian industries became converted to making war material. The government instituted increased taxes and a new idea called “income tax withholding” so the government could collect taxes right away through withholding from the payroll what was due. This was supposed to be a “temporary” thing during the war.

In fact, it was the leadership and energy of the American troops that led the allies to defeat Nazi Germany and Japan in the war. The British had been fighting Germany for two years already and Russia was busy fighting the Nazis on their own soil. It was the United States fighting the war in Asia practically on their own.

However, what really changed on that “day of infamy” eighty years ago was America’s isolationism. The United States could no longer be isolated from the other problems of the world outside our borders. Because of advances in technology and warfare, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans could no longer keep the United States safe from being attacked by a hostile foreign power.

In 1945 as the war was ending, there were guided missiles that could be launched from far away to destroy large cities as well as an atomic bomb that could destroy an entire city and had the potential to destroy civilization as well. President Franklin Roosevelt had learned from the mistakes of the victors in the First World War, and he took the lead in establishing the United Nations as a force to prevent future world wars. After his death, his successor Harry Truman took over where Roosevelt left off.

But what made the postwar period radically different in 1945 than in 1918 was that the United States helped rebuild the countries that we had helped destroy during the war. It was our resources and money that helped create a new Europe as well as a sound and prospering economy in Japan. Instead of having two very bitter defeated enemies, we had turned our former enemies into strong allies.

As far as the United Nations, since 1945 there have been numerous wars throughout the world. But there has never been a world war where almost every nation was at war at the same time. What wars have been fought have been confined to regions of the world where it has been unstable. Therefore, what happened eighty years ago in December 1941 changed the United States as well as the entire world.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 14, Issue 1, Posted 1:06 PM, 01.03.2022