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The Contagious Courage of Pearl Harbor

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II.  

Much of the media attention will, rightly, be upon the dwindling number of Pearl Harbor veterans who survive; there are now just five survivors of the battleship Arizona left and two of the three who have passed away since last December 7, will be interred with their shipmates on the Arizona

Pearl HarborIn the passage of 75 years, and through the Leftist campaign to expunge American history and exceptionalism from the classroom, many of the stories of the courage, sacrifice and heroism of that day have been lost to obscurity. 

However, it wasn’t always that way. 

Growing up in a small town in Indiana with a father who served in World War II’s storied 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and being taught high school history by a World War II Marine Corps veteran, I learned about Pearl Harbor through the stories of the contagious courage of its heroes.

As I studied the battle and learned the stories of the men who fought there, Machinist's Mate First Class Robert R. Scott, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, became my personal inspiration and Robert R. Scott’s story has remained with me and informs my life to this day.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor Machinist's Mate First Class Robert R. Scott displayed a uniquely American kind of courage – a dogged determination to keep at the job no matter what.

Robert Scott’s Medal of Honor citation reads, “For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. The compartment, in the U.S.S. California, in which the air compressor, to which Scott was assigned as his battle station, was flooded as the result of a torpedo hit. The remainder of the personnel evacuated that compartment but Scott refused to leave, saying words to the effect ‘This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going’."

"This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going" has been a motto of mine ever since I learned Scott’s story.

In the now seemingly lost world of Machinist's Mate First Class Robert R. Scott, of my high school history teacher Hank Clason, and of my Dad, giving up, quitting or running away was never an option.

When September 11, 2001 brought another attack on America, I was serving as Director of Policy and Communications for a Member of Congress whose office was in the Cannon Office Building across from the US Capitol – and who was on the plane with President Bush on that fateful day. 

As the 9/11 attack unfolded I was fielding phone calls from the media and constituents anxious for any news of what was going on and who was behind the attack.

As the rumor began to spread that the Capitol was a target many people literally ran out of their shoes to get away, but it never occurred to me to leave until I was forced to do so by the Capitol Police who went door-to-door enforcing an evacuation order.

It wasn’t courage that kept me in the office on the fifth floor of Cannon that day, it was Robert R. Scott’s determination to do his job and do it right that kept me there, and it was contagious. Two other junior staff stayed on as well answering the phones that never stopped ringing.

The power of Robert R. Scott’s story was recognized during World War II, and in 1943 the destroyer escort USS Scott (DE-214) was named in his honor. Robert R. Scott was also a former student at Ohio State University where the Scott House dormitory is named for him.

Scott House sits just three blocks away from the site of the November 28, 2016 Muslim terrorist attack on Ohio State University and I wonder what – if any – recognition the University will accord Machinist's Mate First Class Robert R. Scott today. 

The courage of Pearl Harbor is contagious, but will today’s students at Ohio State even be told the story of Machinist Mate First Class Robert R. Scott?

And if the history of Pearl Harbor and Robert R. Scott’s determination isn’t taught, how will they take away the lesson of Scott’s dogged determination to keep at and win the war Islam has declared on America, no matter what?

Or will they run out their shoes to get away from the battle in a politically correct denial of the reality that, to preserve American exceptionalism and constitutional liberty, one of them may be required to “stay and give them air as long as the guns are going?”

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