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Pearl Harbor – 75 Years Later

December 6, 2016
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

It was a day, that as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said ".would live in infamy." The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 is one of the most significant moments in American history, second only to September 11, 2001 and is still impactful 75 years later.

Although I have never been to Hawaii, they say that the island of Oahu has stunning scenery that includes volcanic mountains, lush vegetation and crystal clear waters. The natural beauty of the island should be the main attraction; instead it is a simple backdrop for hallowed ground for some 2,390 Americans and a memorial that reminds us of a day long ago.

On a balmy December morning in1941 at 7:55 a.m., the first wave of Japanese planes began the assault on Pearl Harbor and at 8:06 a.m., a 1,760 pound bomb slammed into the USS Arizona's forward deck and ignited 500 tons of explosives. She sank in nine minutes and burned for two days. A total of 1,177 men died on board, the greatest death toll ever on a U.S. warship. Only 229 bodies were ever recovered. The rest remain entombed in the wreckage.

What caused the Japanese to attack a country that was by far larger than they were? In July 1940, the U.S. placed an embargo on Japan in the hopes that it would restrain Japan's military aggression in China. Japan. A proud nation was not about to be dictated to by the United States and began making preparations to attack Pearl Harbor early in 1941. The U.S. ambassador to Japan sent a warning to Washington that the Japanese were planning an attack, but the information was not believed. In the months leading up to the attack, the United States monitored messages sent from Japan and on the evening of December 6, Washington decoded a message that pointed to the following morning as the date of the attack.

Unfortunately, the message was not sent to Pearl Harbor command until after the attack had begun. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor lasted two hours and 20 minutes.

Much has been written about this day and many quotes have come from it. Most have come from the U.S. and our allies, but one memorable quote that many do not know about came from Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. When he learned of the Japanese success he is quoted as saying, "I feel all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with terrible resolve." He was so right when he said this.

We can never forget the terrible tragedy that occurred on that single day in December. So many lives were changed forever. A time of carefree enjoyment in America came to an end and not only the people of America but the people of Japan would never be the same or look at the world through the same eyes again.

Not many are alive who can tell their stories of that fateful day in American history and some who are do not wish to speak of it. But it is an important day in our history that we should never forget.

A trip to the USS Arizona Memorial is a trip that I wish to make in my lifetime. I want to remember those who gave their lives in the protection of our rights and liberties. Those who never knew what was coming and who never left their posts still stand guard today in their watery grave. They should never be forgotten and will always be remembered as heroes to a country that can sometimes be critical of what our military does.

So tomorrow on this, the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, stop and remember those whose lives were unknown until that day "a day that will live in infamy."

 
 
 

 

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