Friday, December 07, 2007

Pearl Harbor Day

As today is December 7th, also known as Pearl Harbor Day, I thought it appropriate to remember the events of that day in 1941 and the impact the attack on Pearl Harbor had on our Nation. The photo is the wrecked destroyers USS Downes (DD-375) and USS Cassin (DD-372) in Drydock One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, soon after the end of the Japanese air attack. Cassin has capsized against Downes.

"The Pearl Harbor attack entered the consciousness of contemporary Americans more forcefully than any other single event. Regarded as a dastardly "surprise attack" and an act of "infamy", during the Second World War every effort was made to keep its memory bright. Posters, popular songs and other media were staples of wartime popular culture, regular memorial services were held to commemorate the dead, and flags that had flown at the Capitol and White House on 7 December 1941 were raised over fallen enemy capital cities.

Even after the conflict ended, the Pearl Harbor "surprise" helped shape a generation of National defense policy and was not forgotten by those who had lived through the war. Monuments, large and small, were erected on the battle sites. Around the country, veterans' reunion groups met regularly to keep the memory alive."

Of course, things are a bit different today, when many news outlets and people mention this only in passing. But not here.

The Naval Historical Center website has some terrific links, including this:

"The 7 December 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. A single carefully-planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire's southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into the Second World War as a full combatant."

Read the complete article here.

"I had just had breakfast and was looking out a porthole in sick bay when someone said, "What the hell are all those planes doing up there on a Sunday? " Someone else said, "It must be those crazy Marines. They'd be the only ones out maneuvering on a Sunday." When I looked up in the sky I saw five or six planes starting their descent. Then when the first bombs dropped on the hangers at Ford Island, I thought, "Those guys are missing us by a mile." Inasmuch as practice bombing was a daily occurrence to us, it was not too unusual for planes to drop bombs, but the time and place were quite out of line. We could not imagine bombing practice in port. It occurred to me and to most of the others that someone had really goofed this time and put live bombs on those planes by mistake."

Oral histories from people present during the attack are here.

National Geographic also has a good page on Remembering Pearl Harbor.

From the President's 2007 proclamation:

"On December 7, 1941, our Nation was viciously attacked at Pearl Harbor, America's Pacific Fleet was battered and broken, and more than 2,400 American lives were lost. On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, America honors those brave individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our homeland, and we recognize those veterans who with strength and resolve defended our Nation and advanced the cause of freedom during World War II.

When it mattered most, an entire generation of Americans stepped forward to protect our freedom and to defend liberty. Their devotion to duty and willingness to serve a cause greater than self helped secure our future and our way of life. Liberty prevailed because of the sacrifice of these courageous patriots, and America and her allies preserved a world where democracy could flourish. Our Nation remains forever in the debt of these brave Americans.

From the unprovoked attack at Pearl Harbor grew a steadfast resolve that has made America a defender of freedom around the world, and our mission continues as our men and women in uniform serve at home and in distant lands. Today, as we defend our Nation's founding ideals, we pay special tribute to those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, honor our veterans of World War II, and celebrate the liberty that makes America a lasting symbol of hope to the world

Thank you to our Veterans!

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