In a few short days, come December 7th, it technically will be the 81st Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day, when we take the time to remember and honor the 2,403 Americans that were killed and more than 1,178 were injured by the unprovoked attack by the Empire of Japan on the neutral United State at Naval Station Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii.
But, for the record, the United States Congress did not create this day of remembrance until November 29, 1994, when President Bill Clinton issued a proclamation declaring December 7, 1994, the first National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
It would be about five weeks before I would come into this world, being born in mid-January of 1942. But though I was not there nor had family members there, what took place is something that I do believe has caused me and others over the years to make certain that never happens again, believing that being strong militarily will preclude other would-be aggressors from ever threatening this “sleeping giant,” as this nation became known, as it began to exact its revenge on its treacherous enemy.
It was just before 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in a surprise attack perpetrated its dastardly deed that then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt referred to as “a date which will live in infamy,” when on the day thereafter he declared war on Japan and the United State entered World War II.
The attack, history records, sank four U.S. Navy battleships and damaged four others. It also damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one mine layer. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged.
Today in Pearl Harbor there are historic sites that are open to public tours to help honor the men who died on the USS Arizona, the USS Oklahoma, and the USS Utah. The sunken battleship Arizona lost 1,177 crew members, the Oklahoma, another sunken battleship, lost 429 as it went down, and the USS Utah, a former battleship that had been converted to a target ship, lost fifty-eight men.
Another vessel on display for the public to view is the USS Bowfin, an American submarine that sank forty-four ships in World War II. Its site is adjacent to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitors Center.
While the attack was seen as a victory for Japan, Isoroku Yamamoto, the enemy admiral in charge of the attack on the unsuspecting military outlet, was correct in his assessment that his country’s unprovoked attack had “awakened a sleeping giant,” as he put it.
Despite the loss of men, ships and planes, and that America had been attacked on it home soil for the first time, and that for a time there was a mood of helplessness for a period, the industrial capacity of the United States, once mobilized, was able to provide lots of resources on the stages of both the Pacific and the Atlanta.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor had a large worldwide impact in many aspects. It shocked a nation and altered the entire world, it was said. First, it changed the relationship between America and Japan. It also caused the United States of American to declare war on Germany and Japan, entering WWII. Canada declared war on Japan within hours of the attack, the first Western nation to do so
As one person put it, “As the attack was treacherous and unexpected, the ill-fated crews of these ships perished – except a handful, who escaped by a hair’s breadth. All hell broke loses at this place and the scenario was ghastly and gory.”
The attack took less than two hours.
The Japanese lost only twenty-nine planes in their sneak attack.
However, their bombs and torpedoes failed to target the US cruisers Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga. Their survival would later cost the Japanese Navy dearly. Fortunately for the United State, the dockyard, where the ships could be repaired, and the barrels of oil, were left untouched.
It would take about three and a half years and the loss of thousands of lives on both sides of the conflicts in the Pacific and in Europe before President Harry S, Truman would call for the United States to drop bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that had force the world had never witnessed previously on August 6, 1945, killing almost three-hundred thousand people instantly, according to report, that in no time resulted in the surrender of the Japanese on the deck of the USS Missouri that brought an end of World War II.
In 1994, the United States Congress in a join resolution signed by President Bill Clinton, on November 29, issued a proclamation declaring December 7th as the first National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
On Pearl Harbor Day, the American flag should be flown at half-staff until sunset to honor those who died as a result of the attack on U.S, Military forces in Hawaii. It is not a federal holiday. Government offices, schools and businesses do not close, but organizations may hold special events in memory of those killed or injured at Pearl Harbor.
Just as Imperial Japan was a threat in 1941, there are new threats from the Pacific region. We should not overlook the historical comparisons between Japan and China and their desire for control of the Asian Pacific region.
In recent decades, our drive for profit and sometimes greed, led us to invest overseas when we should have been investing at home. That trend is now starting to reverse course as we realize our national interests and corporate goals must align to keep us strong.
We hear politicians and news pundits now talk about protecting our national interests by “on-shoring” more of our production. This reversal of policy must continue, even accelerate, to protect our nation. Never in our lifetime do we want to see a Second Pearl Harbor Day. We owe it to the men and women who died on December 7, 1941 to never let those events repeat themselves.