Pearl Harbor reminds us of inadequate defenses

Uppermost in the minds of the fewer than two dozen men who were special guests in solemn ceremonies last Thursday in Hawaii probably were comrades in arms who are with us no longer. The men were among the few survivors of the 1941 attack at Pearl Harbor who were able to attend ceremonies on the 76th anniversary of the event.

But something else was missing. To those who understand history and current threats to our freedom, the absence should have been troubling.

Each year, the National Park Service hosts ceremonies at Pearl Harbor to commemorate the attack and honor those who died there and in other places and at other times in the service of our country. Special focus is on the sunken USS Arizona, in which remain entombed many sailors killed on Dec. 7, 1941.

Almost always, part of the annual observance is a Navy ship steaming past the Arizona, with its railings lined with sailors. There was no ship this year.

Operational requirements meant no ship was available for the task, Navy officials explained.

Defense analysts have pointed out for years that the Navy is woefully short of both the number and quality of ships needed to defend our nation on the seas.

Now, President Donald Trump has vowed to rebuild the Navy. Many in Congress seem to agree attention is needed to the essential armed force.

What was missing last Thursday in Pearl Harbor is a reminder action cannot come too soon.