It is a warm, sunny Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor, the US Naval Station located on the Hawaiian Islands. This is the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet. The ships have all been put in the harbor. The men are eating breakfast, going to church, or sleeping in. This is a morning of for them.
The date is December 7, 1941. Hitler has taken over most of Europe; Japan has conquered much of Asia. People in the United States are divided when it comes to entering the war, and the president, Franklin D. Roosevelt is moving forward cautiously, hoping to spare US involvement in the war. Most of the rest of the world is at war, but not the United States.
About 7:02 a radar operator notices a couple of blips on his screen, but he thinks nothing of it. The base is expecting a couple of US bombers from the West Coast.
At 7:55 the radar operator know the base is in trouble. At that time dive bombers with the red Japanese sun left their bombs fall on Battleship Row. The battleship Arizona is the first hit, splitting in half with a huge bellow, trapping Naval troops in a watery grave. Some of them remain there today, at the USS Arizona Memorial.
But this is just the beginning. The United States loses all of its planes on the base. Most of the warships are damaged or crippled. More than 2000 civilians, soldiers and sailors are killed, making this the second deadliest attack on US soil, the first being the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers on September 9, 2011.
Eight-o-five is the time in Hawaii; 2:05 is the time in Washington, DC. The President learns of the attack at about this time. Not only has Pearl Harbor been attacked, but also American and British bases located at Midway, Guam, Wake Island, Hong Cong, the Phillipines, and Singapore.
The story goes out by news wires about 2:25 to inform the American people. Everyone now seems united to enter the war.
The next day President Roosevelt goes before Congress to ask that body to declare war on Japan. The quote, “a date which will live in infamy”, is from Roosevelt’s speech to Congress. The rest of the speech is stirring; take time to look it up when you have a chance.
Three days later, Germany and Italy, who are allied with the Japanese, declare war on the United States. World War II has begun.
Today as you are reading the newspaper, maybe after attending church, or Christmas shopping at the mall, or visiting relatives you may not see during the holidays, please take a minute to remember the men and women of Pearl Harbor.
It was a terrible price to pay, but it did unite the US to involvement in WWII. Can you imagine the outcome of that war without the leadership and military of the United States? I’d rather not.