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Pearl Harbor

December 7, 2023

by Sydney Alix

December 7, 1941

The morning of December 7, 1941, began like every other Sunday in America. Families arose early to prepare for church services. Shops and businesses remained closed in honor of the Lord’s Day, and American citizens—from the average workman, housewife, and businessman, to doctors, lawyers, and even soldiers and military personal—filed into churches across the nation.

The year had been full of uncertainty, as Hitler’s campaigns in Europe progressed rapidly, and to such an extent that by the end of 1941, over 40 different nations were involved. A handful of others, including the United States, attempted to stay neutral. Since the beginning of the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had repeatedly assured the American people during both his presidential campaign and the beginning of his term as president that the United States would not join the conflict, or send any of her sons to war. By the end of 1940, however, tensions between the United States and Japan had begun to simmer (US Dept. of State). On September 11, 1940, in an address to the Teamsters Union Convention, FDR’s assurances changed to a slightly more unsettling tune when he stated, “We will not participate in foreign wars, and we will not send our Army, naval or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas, except in case of attack.” (Federer, B.)

The Japanese had been engaged in a brutal conquest in China since 1937. When Hitler’s armies stormed their way across Europe in 1939-1940, drawing all the attention of the European nations, the Asian European colonies such as the Dutch East Indies and Indochina were left virtually undefended. These islands were rich in natural resources that would enable the Japanese to end their war with China in triumph, and such a conquest would undoubtedly be a valuable asset to the Japanese empire. However, an attack upon the European colonies would inevitably draw Japan into war with the United States, which was no light consequence to take into consideration (Citino, R.).

In 1941, the Japanese sent negotiators to the United States Secretary of State (Cordell Hull), while at the same time, their military planners began to map out their strategies for both conquest of the western colonies and the incapacitation of the United States. The year before, FDR had the US Pacific Fleet relocated from San Diego, California, to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This move created the perfect opportunity that Japan was looking for. The destruction of the American fleet would be a crippling blow that would almost certainly eliminate the threat of American retaliation to the Japanese offensive in the Pacific. Such an attack upon the American naval fleet would also entail great risks, and such a fact was not taken lightly, as plans for the attack were carefully studied and developed by some of Japan’s best military personal (Citino, R.).

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The breakdown of negations between the United States and Japan in 1941 alerted FDR and his advisers to the high probability of an incoming Japanese attack, but despite this, no steps were taken to increase security at the Pearl Harbor naval base (History.com). Disturbingly, later investigations into the matter showed that urgent warnings regarding the impending attack may have even been ignored (Federer, B.). The consequences of this negligence and dereliction were devastating.

All six of Japan’s fleet carriers were launched in a secret mission across the over 3,000 miles of ocean separating them from the Hawaiian islands and Pearl Harbor. The fleet carriers stopped within a few hundred miles north of their destination, and unleashed their aircraft in the early hours of Sunday morning, December 7, 1941 (Citino, R.). Later that same morning, at 7:02 a.m., radar operators on the island sighted the large waves of aircraft, but as a flight of B-17s were expected to arrive from the US during the same time frame, no alarm was ordered, and Pearl Harbor remained blissfully unaware of the nightmare that was about to strike (History.com). When the attack commenced shortly thereafter, devastation and horror rapidly unfolded. In about 90 minutes (Citino, R.), the 350 Japanese planes wreaked havoc and destruction upon the Pearl Harbor naval base. 5 American battleships and 3 destroyers were sunk (Federer, B.), while 7 others were severely damaged (History.com). Over 160 aircraft were destroyed, and an additional 150 were severely damaged (Library of Congress). Tragically, 2400 Americans were lost their lives, while an additional 1,200 were wounded while attempting to fend off the devastating attack (History.com).

The next day, FDR spoke before a joint session of Congress: “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.” He called upon Congress to declare war upon Japan, and the vote for the declaration of war that followed was passed almost unanimously. Germany and Italy declared war upon the United States soon thereafter, and America was quickly immersed in the global war against the evil, fascist dictators that threatened to quench the sacred torch of liberty for mankind all over the world. In the four hard years that followed, over 400,000 Americans gave their lives in defense of our nation’s freedom (History.com).

On this December 7, the 82nd anniversary of the tragic attack on Pearl Harbor, may we as Americans thank God for all of the courageous men and women who sacrificed their lives in defense of our freedoms, and take the time to humbly thank and honor the WWII veterans who are still in our midst today for their service to our country. Also, may each one of us resolve to ensure that the sacred gift of freedom, bought at so high a price, lives to be passed on to the next generation and not is not extinguished on our watch.

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‘When you go home, tell them for us and say, “For your tomorrow, we gave our today.”’ (Bradley, J.)

References:

History.com Editors. (2009, November 24.) This Day in History: December 7: 1941: Pearl Harbor Bombed. Retrieved on December 5, 2023, from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ pearl-harbor-bombed

Federer, B. (July 29, 2023.) Pearl Harbor Attacked “DECEMBER 7, 1941, — a date which will live in infamy!” – American Minute with Bill Federer. Retrieved on December 5, 2023, from: lhttps:// http://americanminute.com/…/pearl-harbor-attacked… a-date-which-will-live-in-infamy-american-minute-with-bill-federer? _pos=1&_sid=d00d449f2&_ss=r

Citino, R. (n.d.) Remembering Pearl Harbor. Retrieved on December 5, 2023, from: https:// http://www.nationalww2museum.org/…/pearl-harbor…

Library of Congress. (n.d.) Air Raid On Pearl Harbor. Retrieved on December 5, 2023, from: https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/december-07/

United States Department of State: Office of the Historian. (n.d.) Japan, China, the United States and the Road to Pearl Harbor, 1937–41. Retrieved on December 5, 2023, from: https://history.state.gov/ milestones/1937-1945/pearl-harbor

Bradley, J. (2016.) Flags of Our Fathers. Bantam Books.

Author Bio:

My name is Sydney Alix, and I live on a small farm outside of Weiser, Idaho. I am very passionate about animal husbandry, and greatly enjoy working with my family to further develop our farm.

I am a former homeschool student, and since graduating have been actively pursuing a career in Natural Health, become a self-published author, and an alumni of Patriot Academy’s Regional Leadership Congress.

I have a deep love for the Lord and my country. My desire is to both be a light in my community, and work to ensure that the precious gift of freedom is passed on to the next generation.

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