‘A date which will live in infamy’
‘A date which will live in infamy’“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation….”–Pres. F.D. Roosevelt, Dec. 8, 1941
By Stephan Drew, Editor
Eighty-one years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States of America, stood before a joint session of congress and uttered those words. Some may not think that strange. But, Roosevelt had been paralyzed from the waist down over 25 years before he stood there, delivering what is now considered his most famous speech ever.The day before, at 7:48 a.m., 4 Japanese aircraft carriers, 2 heavy battle cruisers, two battleships, 11 destroyers, nine oil ships, and 35 submarines loosed their cargo (353 aircraft) on the unsuspecting Hawaiian port of Pearl Harbor. It was a bright Sunday morning. The night before, most of the military staff stationed there had been out on the town, having a good time. There was also a band competition the last night before the attack. That Sunday, they all awoke to a beautiful, calm morning sunrise which proceeded the bombardment.The Japanese dive bombers and torpedo planes caused immeasurable havoc to the entire Pacific Fleet of the United States. As American ships were struck, the leaked oil into the harbor. When they exploded, the oil, and all those escaping the sinking ships, were engulfed in flames. As badly burned men were pulled out of the water by brave rescuers, their skin peeled off their bones, eliciting screams from the injured and nausea from the rescuers. The smell of death was all around and the harbor was filled with the smoke of burning oil. The Japanese bombers came in 2 separate waves, hellbent on total destruction. Brave American soldiers manned the anti-aircraft guns and, were able to shoot down over 29 of the Japanese aircraft, destroy 5 of the midget submarines and kill 64 of the Japanese servicemen. Kazuo Sakamaki, one of the submarine commanders was also captured.Over the next 7 hours, the Japanese also attacked the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong. It was naked and overt aggression. Japan needed more oil in order to fight a war. The U.S. had cut off their supply after Japan invaded China, forcing Japan to look elsewhere to fuel their war machine. The Japanese government decided to invade and attack the Dutch East Indies. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do this unhindered because the Philippines was held by the United States and America had a powerful navy. If they could destroy the U.S. Naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese ambitions of total domination in the Pacific might be possible. The floating armada left Hitokappu Bay, Japan, on November 26th (11 days before the attack) and slowly traveled north, taking an indirect route through extremely rough waters, so as not to be detected, before turning south just before the attack.There was a great deal of careful planning by the Japanese, as well. Until 24 hours before departure, only a handful of commanders knew their destination. They had trained for months in Japan, in a harbor which looked extremely like Pearl Harbor. The whole 11 days of the voyage, they traveled under complete radio silence, using only flags and hand signals on board. And, their strategy paid off for them, at least in the beginning. They were extremely successful in their attempts. They sunk 5 of the 9 American battleships and rendered the other 4 incapable of sailing. They struck 3 cruisers, 4 destroyers, 5 auxiliary ships and killed nearly 2,400 American servicemen, as well as wounding nearly 1,100 others. The scene was one of near-total destruction. They had hoped to not only destroy our naval fleet but to also scare us into submission. They were wrong. As soon as word of the attack spread in the United States, tens of thousands of men lined up at recruitment offices, determined to get revenge. It took 3 ½ years to defeat the Axis of Evil but, with American faith, determination and resolve, they did it.Shortly after the attack, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto questioned the wisdom of the action. “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve,” Yamamoto said. He was right. Americans are never stronger or more united than when we have been attacked. In the 1930s and 1940s, there were 3 evil powers hellbent on war and global domination– Germany, Italy and Japan. Now, we face another, similar, possibility. Russia, China and North Korea are already flexing their military might, threatening and, even, attacking nearby countries. If we are not firm in our deliberations with them, I’m afraid there may be the beginnings of another world war. I hope and pray that the “sleeping giant” never has to awaken again. Thank you all for your military service. You have kept our country safe and free. May God bless you and may He bless the United States of America.