If we still remembered History, we would know the poignancy of the word infamy.
Those of us who are boomers cannot hear or read the word without thinking of FDR’s speech following the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Nearly thirty-four years later, I was sitting in the endzone of Shea Stadium for a game between the Jets and the Patriots. Joe Namath would throw three touchdowns en route to a 36-7 rout of the Patriots, but this is not what I remember of that day.
During halftime, all those in attendance were asked to honor the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, and give a rousing Jet welcome. I’m not sure if we were asked to give a rousing Jet welcome or not, but we did clap and cheer somewhat.
Hirohito was Emperor of Japan during World War II and, of course, on December 7, 1941.
At the time, I was in the middle of my graduate degree in American History, and I could not help but think at the time that there were probably a few people in the stands who had fought in World War II or lost loved ones during the war, perhaps even in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
Nevertheless, we cheered out of respect for an ally.
How far we had come in our forgiveness and understanding of a man who had once been our enemy.
It was a fascinating lesson in global politics and something I have always remembered. It is something we should never lose sight of when we determine any nation is our enemy.
Certainly, it is a lesson that we should all ponder in our age of polarization and division. People who disagree with us are not our enemy. People who disagree with us may hold opinions for which we hold no tolerance but that doesn’t mean we should be intolerant to the people who hold such ideas.
Hate the idea, perhaps, but not the person. Leave a little doubt in the absolute righteousness of your own opinions and try to understand the opinion you despise.