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“Remember Pearl Harbor” Lapel Pin

"Remember Pearl Harbor" lapel pin (1941)
“Remember Pearl Harbor” lapel pin (1941)

Pearl Harbor, located in Hawaii, was an American naval base which people now associate with the terrifying attack that took place on December 7, 1941. That morning, the U.S. found itself under a surprise aerial attack of around 200 Japanese aircrafts. The seemingly never-ending attack lasted for two hours, taking out a chunk of the navy fleet including 300 aircrafts, killing 2000 soldiers all the while wounding another additional 1000 soldiers. The immediate day following the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt received an almost unanimous decision (1 voted against) by Congress to bring the United States to war.

The picture above shows the “Remember Pearl Harbor” lapel pin that was made and given out to thousands following the attack in remembrance of the tragedy . The bald eagle, the national bird of America and the symbol of strength in old Rome, emits a strong sense of patriotism and power. Its’ spreading wings signifies national pride, perhaps a way of calling for the people to stand back up proudly and serve their country as the eagle (the people) prepares to ‘take flight’ to war. The oval shape of the pin is a symbolic expression similar to that of the Oval Office and the Blue Room of the White House. The oval, unlike a circle, has no single center points but balances on two points, symbolizing the government and the power of the people. The color selection adds on to the patriotic aura of the pin, painted in the colors of the American flag, red and blue along with the white pearl in the center: “Red for courage and readiness to sacrifice; white for pure intentions and high ideals; and blue for vigilance and justice”.

This artifact can be connected to the idea of “The Benevolent Community” from An American Morality Tale written by Robert Reich. By giving out and wearing the pins, the individual has willingly gave himself in to the community, giving up the I in light of “community pride, and patriotism”. The willingness and commitment of the people are “bound together in common cause”, to fight and defend their nation from the threat that has struck their homeland, a cause that united the whole country together: “America is a single, national community”.

 

Sources:

https://www.britannica.com/event/Pearl-Harbor-attack

http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/pearl-harbor

http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_434044

http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/how-did-the-bald-eagle-become-americas-national-bird

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