It’s time to Break It Down!
A decade ago, yesterday, in observance of the 70th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing by Japan, I wrote the following post. The 80th Anniversary seems like an apt occasion to revisit subject. Since I wrote the post in 2011, a few years ago, my wife and I visited Honolulu, Hawaii, and Pearl Harbor, including the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, the USS Utah Memorial, and the USS Cisco (Submarine) Memorial Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. It was a great trip with lots of amazing history and artifacts. So, here’s the original post:
Seventy years ago today, an incursion of the highest order befell our great nation. On that fateful Sunday in early December, the Japanese Empire, with the aid of its naval and air forces, attacked the American military installation at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Although, Hawaii did not officially become the 50th State until June 27, 1959, the Republic of Hawaii was annexed, and had become the incorporated U.S. Territory of Hawaii on July 6, 1898. To wit, America was, in an instant, immersed in World War II (WWII), by default.
The next day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) met with the U.S. Congress to request a Declaration of War, and in so doing, uttered these now famous words: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval andair forces of the Empire of Japan.”
This brazen and unmitigated act of war had surprised the American military establishment, and the Country as a whole. While we as Americans remember the pillage at Pearl Harbor, the comprehensive nature of the Japanese attacks, though amply documented, is less well-known. In fact, over a two-day span, Japan spread a torrent of carnage throughout the Pacific, including:
· Torpedoing ships between Honolulu and San Francisco
· Launching an offensive against Malaya
· Assailing Hong Kong
· Raiding Guam
· Attacking the Philippine Islands
· Raiding Wake Island
· Invading Midway Island
FDR’s request was granted of course. Four days later, on December 11th, Germany, and Italy, which had signed a three-nation pact with Japan on September 27, 1940, declared war on the United States. In his prepared statement, Adolph Hitler declared Germany and Italy were compelled to defend their ally, Japan. At that point, it’s fair to say it was on! From December 7, 1941, until Japan surrendered, unconditionally, on September 2, 1945, global Armageddon raged. Over those 3 ¾ years, many of the key operational dynamics would shift, change, or otherwise be altered, as is always the case during periods of war. During this time frame:
- Benito Mussolini quit his post as Dictator of Italy
- U.S. Flag raised over Iwo Jima
- FDR died; Harry S. Truman was sworn in as President of the United States
- Italians killed Mussolini
- Adolph Hitler committed suicide
- U.S. tested first Atomic Bomb at Los Alamos (New Mexico) National Laboratory
- Winston Churchill lost re-election bid
- U.S. dropped the (Atomic) Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, three days apart
- Allied Nations celebrated VJ (Victory over Japan) Day
- Japan surrendered, unconditionally
The War had actually begun in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland on September 1st; it lasted six years. During that span, in what was the second World War in 25 years, every major world power was involved in a war for global domination. By the end, over 60 million people had lost their lives. Ultimately, the conclusion of the war was precipitated by the United States unleashing the cataclysmic and previously unknown forces of nuclear weaponry. It was only after the U.S. destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a three-day period that the Japanese Empire was persuaded to surrender, which for all practical purposes, ended the war.
So it is with much respect, simple humility, and a heavy dose of sadness that I salute the millions pressed to service to defend the world as we know it against the rapacious desires of those in search of global hegemony and world domination. In any version of this story America deserves a special place. As a nation we resisted direct involvement until victimized by a lethal and unprompted frontal assault. After engaging, we worked with allied forces to try and repel the efforts of relentless transgressors. Finally, when nothing else worked, we introduced a wild card, the most lethal weapons system known to man, the Atomic Bomb. The resulting death and devastation was so stunningly pervasive, a heretofore recalcitrant enemy was forced, immediately to “call it off.”
We now live in the nuclear age of course. Many nations have access to nuclear weapons, while others are trying to attain them. What the future holds is uncertain. But we know for sure that any number of countries have The Bomb at their disposal, and there are enough nuclear weapons stored around the world to destroy the earth, many times over. With what should be mixed emotions, as Americans, we also know that the only nation ever to unleash the fury of this potential “world-ender” is us, as in the U.S. In that regard, it was then, and remains today, an absolute truth, “December 7, 1941: A Date Which Will Live In Infamy Redux ’21!”
I’m done; holla back!
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