Friday, December 07, 2007

Remember Pearl Harbor

"Remember Pearl Harbor" (lyrics to the popular song by that name here) was a rallying cry for America, especially during the early days of our involvement in World War II. Until this day in 1941, the debates between the isolationists and the interventionists were heated and frequent. Those who advocated war wanted to send troops to Europe to put an end to Hitler's relentless onslaught there. Conversely, there were those who thought that the reports of Hitler's atrocities were greatly exaggerated, and maybe his plan to "unify Europe" wasn't so bad after all. Despite the fact that Japan had been fighting in its corner of the world for many years, Americans were largely unconcerned about a threat from that direction.

Japan's unprovoked attack on our naval and air forces in Pearl Harbor initially achieved two things: 1) The fighting among the isolationists and interventionists came to a halt and 2) Japan's alliance with Nazi Germany assured that the U.S. was going to war on two fronts.

You can listen to President Franklin Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor address here.

And here's something from The Writer's Almanac, many thanks to Garrison Keillor:
"It was on this day in 1941 that Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That morning soldiers at Pearl Harbor were learning how to use their new radar technology, and they detected a large number of planes heading toward them. They telephoned an officer to ask him what to do. The officer said they must be American B-17s on their way to the base, and he told the soldiers not to worry about it.
The Japanese bombers began their attack at 7:48 a.m., with two waves of 360 planes, beginning with slow torpedo bombers and then dive-bombers. Many of the soldiers there that day woke up to the sound of alarms and explosions. Most of the damage occurred in the first 30 minutes. The U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized, and the California, Nevada, and West Virginia sank in shallow water. The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed, killing more than 1,500 soldiers aboard. When nurses arrived for morning duty they found hundreds of injured men all over the base. The nurses ran around, administering morphine, and to prevent overdoses, they wrote the letter M on each treated man's forehead.
There were ultimately 2,390 Americans killed at Pearl Harbor and 1,178 wounded. FDR used the event as the grounds for entering World War II."

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