In combing through the back issues of Newsday published on this day, Dec. 8, there really was only one paper we could consider for this week’s reference point: Dec. 8, 1941. It was the day after Pearl Harbor, and the occasion for the editorial board to consider America’s entry into World War II.

“So this is how war begins,” the board wrote.

It went on to express the “shock” of hearing about the attack on the radio on a peaceful Sunday afternoon, listening to urgent calls for enlisted personnel on leave to report immediately for duty, and observing that “Local Japanese are being rounded up.”

“And those of us who live near Mitchel Field could see, in the dark of last night’s sky, patrols of swift pursuit planes take the air,” the board wrote. “No routine practice flights now. It is war.”

The editorial board understood the consequences of the surprise attack, writing that “we must now fight, even though not ready. We must fight until the deadly end, both Japan and Germany.”

And the board also understood, with uncanny foresight, the nature of the fight:

“Though we shall have help from men all over the world who hate conquest by force as deeply as we do, help that will be priceless, nevertheless it will be the force of American arms that will in the end finally wipe out the threat of aggression.”

There were other things the board got right. The demise, for then, of the isolationist argument. The end of labor strikes and the need to “work, work, work, to produce for the Army and Navy.”

There were things the board could not have foreseen. The blackouts. The supply shortages that required the rationing of tires, sugar, gasoline, coffee, butter, canned goods, and shoes. The societal changes wrought by 6 million women going to work in factories and 200,000 women serving in the military.

But the board understood well the arduous road that lay ahead.

“And so, twenty-three years and twenty-six days after the Armistice that ended the last World War, America is again in it,” the board wrote. “The road ahead is long, and it is hard. No one of us will be the same after it is over. But as Americans, secure in the knowledge that we are right, we will go down the road ahead, however long and hard it may be, to victory.”

The board concluded by hoping that this time we would be wise enough “to make a post-war world in which what happened yesterday cannot happen again.”

In a year that has seen an unprovoked Russia attack Ukraine, and that nation fight back in righteous defiance, it’s clear that the wisdom the editorial board yearned for on Dec. 8, 1941 has eluded us and that humanity still has not discovered an antidote to war.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie and Amanda Fiscina-Wells @adfiscina