Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor day is a day many Americans know. If anything, you’ve seen the movie titled Pearl Harbor and associate the day with Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett from the movie (am I dating myself by assuming this? There are other movies about the day out there too like Tora! Tora! Tora!). But in reality, 69 years ago in 1941 Japan bombed the Navy port in Hawaii, beginning U.S. involvement in WWII.

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaiian time, a Japanese dive-bomber appeared above Oahu. Shortly after 360 Japanese warplanes followed and descended on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, and the attack struck a critical blow to the U.S. Pacific fleet.

Diplomatic negotiations with Japan had been deteriorating and it is said President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew an imminent Japanese attack was probable. At the time nothing had been done to increase security at Pearl Harbor.

Since it was Sunday many men had been given passes to attend Sunday services. No alarm was sounded because a fleet of B-17 had been expected to arrive. Much of the Pacific Fleet was rendered useless after the bombing and a total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while attempting to fight back against the attack. The only lucky part was all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea.

A day after Pearl Harbor was bombed President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 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.”

After asking for a declaration of war the Senate voted for war 82 to 0 and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. Only Jeannette Ranking of Montana voted against war because she was a devout pacifist. She also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into WWI.

Three days later Germany and Italy declared war against the U.S. and the government acted in king. President Roosevelt had been looking for an excuse to become involved in Europe and saw this as the excuse he needed.

After the attack Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese Admiral is credited with saying, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." This quote comes from a popular American movie Tora! Tora! Tora! and Yamamoto may have never said these words.

What is known is the admiral may have begun questioning the decision to attack Pearl Harbor in the first place, beginning to believe Japan could not win a protracted war against the United States. There is no verification for the quote, but it does well to summarize some of the feelings at the time.

I hope everyone takes the time to remember December 7 today, it is important to our country, and changed the course of history during the time. It is possible without the attack the U.S. would not have entered WWII in the first place. But that is uncertain as well, and I can’t readily answer that larger question.

In other news, if anyone is interested in viewing my thesis I spent so much time on, visit the website I created for it at: http://www.ashleylauwereinsthesis.weebly.com
I hope you enjoy it!

I hope everyone has a great week, and a Happy Holiday Season! Chanukah is going on right now (it’s the sixth night), and Christmas is coming up!

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