PV Schools

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Seventy-five years have passed since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, also known as the “the date that will live in Infamy.” Indeed, on that day our nation was compelled to enter the conflagration, and to confront the genocide and destruction that had been roaring through Europe and Asia well before the attack on Poland in 1939. Reluctant to go to war after WWI, to be once again entangled in Europe’s conflicts, our leaders prepared our military and quietly supported our allies, but President Roosevelt only made the official declaration of war after the attack. All Americans, especially our servicemen and women, responded with the spirit, courage and strength that we revere to preserve the freedoms we cherish. In a famous speech, President Roosevelt identified the “four freedoms” we needed to remember in our struggle: freedom of speech, freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom of religion. With those freedoms in mind, our belief in the dignity of every individual, and the knowledge that our vulnerability as a democracy requires our vigilance, we remember Pearl Harbor as a violent and tragic assault on our homeland. We also remember Pearl Harbor as a call to unity of purpose, doing what was necessary to protect American principles and values that inspire us and so many around the world.

To make this day more meaningful, I would like to suggest planning a visit to Hyde Park. I have learned much about the decisions made at that time by visiting Hyde Park with my family. The museum is interactive and a wonderful place for children to be exposed to our history. Valkill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s retreat, provides further insight into the dialogue between the President and his wife about difficult and controversial decisions that were made throughout his presidency.

In a reference attributed to George Santayana and then Winston Churchill, we are cautioned that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  Our Putnam Valley teachers are committed to ensuring that our students “learn from history.” It is up to all of us to move toward a better future empowered by that knowledge.


Dr. Frances Wills

Superintendent of Schools