“Yesterday, December 7th, 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.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
What a horrible occurrence in such a beautiful place. On a Sunday Morning in paradise, tragedy struck. No, not just tragedy. Villainy. The attack on pearl harbor was a despicable assault on, not just our Navy, but our country and our very way of life. The Empire of Japan decided that America was weak, and ripe for the picking, and they took to the skies and leveled our naval base. The Japanese committed this act as a preventative measure to keep the United States from getting involved in the Pacific Theater, and as a punitive measure for the economic sanctions imposed by the United States, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. It was one of the largest miscalculations in military history. Rather than prevention, it was a guarantee.
The attack took its toll, beyond doubt. 353 fighters, bombers and torpedo planes were launched in two waves from six aircraft carriers that morning, resulting in heavy casualties and loss of equipment. All eight battleships that were berthed in the harbor were damaged, four of them were sunk including, most famously, the U.S.S. Arizona. Of the eight, two were raised, and another four repaired resulting in six of them rejoining the fleet. The bombing also destroyed or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft ship, and a mine-layer. In all, 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed, 2,402 Americans were killed, and 1,282 were wounded on that dreadful day.
In 2012, we are so focused on 9/11/01 that we don’t really understand the impact of Pearl Harbor anymore. We have forgotten the sacrifices that were made by the brave men and women that fought, bled and died that day. Let us not forget that in its day, the Pearl Harbor bombing impacted the United States in much the same way that the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had on us all these many years later. There are still people alive today that witnessed, or worse yet, fought in that terrible battle. The tears and blood that were shed that day are ingrained into their very bones.
In a time when all of the Empire has gone out of Japan, and they have gone from bitter enemies to staunch allies, we must still remember the sacrifice as surely as we have forgotten the offense. Japan has paid for the assault, and has been reconciled. I celebrate that fact. Still, this is a day to pay silent homage to those who lost their lives defending our country. Let us look to the west, and pray thanksgiving to God for those men, the remains of whom are still trapped in the Arizona. For the men and women that fell fighting for us. For those that survived and are still haunted by the memory.
To those who remain I say this. I can never repay the debt that I owe you. Your service to this country is so much appreciated. To those that still serve in our military, and have served in the past, thank you so much for your service. To you who say “It was an honor to serve.” I say the honor is ours. May God bless the fallen, their families, and the United States of America.