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Archive for December 7th, 2012

Remembering Those We Lost in the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Posted by Dr. Fay on December 7, 2012

Earlier today, Governor Palin posted this remembrance of Pearl Harbor:

Sarah Palin · 3,485,998 like this

Americans will never forget those who died on this day of “infamy” at Pearl Harbor 71 years ago, and we will never forget those who served in World War II and those who continue to serve in war zones today. We are thinking of our vets on this day, and we are thankful for them every day. Their sacrifices for America won’t be taken for granted.

Today America remembers those whose lives were lost during the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor as well as those who survived the trauma of that day.   The number of casualties lost there during an enemy attack on American soil is second only to that of the attack on the Twin Towers.

From a history posted on PearlHarbor.org,  self-described as the official site of the attack:

Toward the end of 1941. With the Soviets seemingly on the verge of defeat by the Axis powers, Japan seized the opportunity to try to take the oil resources of Southeast Asia. The U.S. wanted to stop Japanese expansion but the American people were not willing to go to war to stop it.  The U.S. demanded that Japan withdraw from China and Indochina, but would have settled for a token withdrawal and a promise not to take more territory.

[...]

The Warnings

The U.S. had broken the Japanese diplomatic code and knew an attack was imminent. A warning had been sent from Washington, but it arrived too late.

Early warning radar was new technology.  Japanese planes were spotted by radar before the attack, but they were assumed to be a flight of American B-17s due in from the West Coast.  Read the eyewitness account

The Attack

On December 7th 1941, on an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning on a beautiful Hawaiian island, the first wave of Japanese airplanes left 6 aircraft carriers and struck Pearl Harbor a few minutes before 8 AM local time. See Map of Pearl Harbor

In two waves of terror lasting two long hours, they killed or wounded over 3,500 Americans and sank or badly damaged 18 ships – including all 8 battleships of the Pacific Fleet – and over 350 destroyed or damaged aircraft.  At least 1,177 lives were lost when the Battleship U.S.S. Arizona More about the Arizona exploded and subsequently sank.

[...]

However, they did not sink any of our Pacific aircraft carriers and they left most of the fuel that was needed to win the war in the Pacific.

In one stroke, the Japanese navy scored a brilliant success—and assured their ultimate defeat.

The Japanese attack brought the U.S. into the war on December 8—and brought it in the war determined to fight to the finish.

Read more.

A number of eyewitness accounts are posted here on the site.  One of them is by John McGoran, who served on the USS California.  He ends his description of the attack with this statement:

Only one who was there can fully appreciate what took place. As a Pearl Harbor Survivor who was at ground zero on “battleship row,” the morning of December 7, 1941, I feel, “if you didn’t go through it, there’s no words that can adequately describe it; if you were there, then no words are necessary.”

Video retrieved from Nate Ernst.
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