December 7, 2015,

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

Seventy-four years ago today the Empire of Japan attacked the United States by sinking or damaging much of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As a young ensign who served in Hawaii in the early 1970’s, I learned from the people of Hawaii a unique perspective. We mainlanders describe the event as, “The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.” Hawaiians refer to December 7, 1941 as, “The day Japan attacked us.”

Pearl Harbor forced a reluctant United States into the Second World War. December 7 began a process of defeating dictatorships in Germany, Japan, and Italy. The United States emerged in 1945 as the world’s superpower. The nation’s economy dominated world trade. We became a unified people in which rich and poor worked together in a common cause. By War’s end we were all paying taxes. The G.I. bill opened college education to millions. Pent up savings from the War launched a consumer economy that remains dominant today.

It is right that we honor the World War II generation. Along with victory, there was a sadness among the soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines who returned home. They had witnessed too much killing, wounding, and destruction to be at peace. Those in military service came home wanting a moral compass to make sense of life. The Good News of Jesus Christ provided that, and the Church helped them transform that compass from an abstract ideal into a practical reality.

In this Advent season of 2015 it might help us to revisit the lessons learned by “The Greatest Generation.” We too need a moral compass to meet the challenges of our time. The Gospel message of Jesus provides us with many good answers. It also helps us ask better questions. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,