70 Years Later

Posted on December 7, 2011


On December 7th, 1941, America went to war.

Okay, granted, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been looking for a reason to end US isolationism in the face of fascist aggression, but the attack on Pearl Harbor was the event that committed our nation to war.

It was not entirely a surprise attack. Nor was there a declaration of war in the hands of the Japanese ambassador to the United States, stuck in traffic as the first bombs fell.

Rather, the Imperial Japanese army and navy did not want to alert us to their intent (documents discovered in 1999). So the 14-Part Message that the ambassador was to deliver was sent so late that his people couldn’t transcribe it fast enough for him to deliver it. Not that it mattered. By the time he did deliver it, our intelligence people had already decoded and read most of it.

2,402 American service people died. 1,247 were wounded. 57 civilians were killed, and 35 wounded. 64 Japanese personnel died, and one was captured.

Today we lay a wreath at the Arizona memorial to honor the dead, but let us also remember the living. The attack on Pearl Harbor galvanized the United States, breathed new life into the alliance between the US, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, and united us as a people. The tragedy seventy years ago meant the end of fascist domination in Europe and the Pacific, because US citizens pulled together, made sacrifices, and volunteered to serve in whatever capacity possible. It opened new doors for women in the workplace, opened our eyes to the wider world, and struck numerous blows against racial discrimination – thought that fight continues.

Today, we should remember, alongside the few remaining survivors.

Posted in: Military