In Honor of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the response of all Americans, I wanted to post something to remind us that December 7 is a day unlike any other day in the first week of December. It was this day, 69 years ago, that the men and women around the country grew up in a hurry. Just the day before, life was a normal event despite the growing tensions around the world. Americans were already well aware of the potential for them being drawn into the fray as Japan had sights on a growing empire. However, Sunday December 7th started out much like any other day before. Being that it was a Sunday, people were either in church or had attended church as usual and now they were preparing for their typical afternoon events… perhaps a family gathering or a bit of time playing with the kids… Then it all came to a screeching halt. As word spread about what was happening in Hawaii, Americans stopped. They looked around at their families and realized that there was really something worth living and fighting for.
On that day, the American passion awoke — again. It was a familiar passion, one that was known just a few decades earlier during World War I, but this time it was different. This time, they came to us. This time they took American lives on American shores. It may have been Hawaii, but it was America… and could have been their neighbor for all anyone cared at that moment. Suddenly, everyone knew what time it was but they didn’t need to look at their watch to know because the message wasn’t from a clock. It was inside of them, all of them, all Americans felt it at the same time. It was time to lock arms with each other and look their enemies squarely in the eye. On that morning, the men and women all felt the inexplicable drive to take action because they understood a few basic principles – honor, pride, integrity, country. With honor, they stood together and enlisted to fight their enemies. With great pride, they fought to protect their families from their enemies. With integrity, they engaged their enemies in combat. And they did it all with a love for their country.
It is with that life changing moment and those life defining principles, that they are rightly called “The Greatest Generation”. They are men and women of honor. They are real American heroes. They are our parents and grandparents. However much that has been lost through the generations, I pray that we have not lost “honor, pride, integrity, and love of country”. I pray that we will honor their sacrifices, show our pride for their commitment, speak with integrity when we remember them, and love our country as much as they did.
My dad had to wait until his 16th birthday before he could enlist in the Navy. He had to get his parents to sign off on him enlisting. He went with his buddies down to the Naval recruiting office but he was the only one who went through with enlisting that day. He served as an aircraft mechanic stationed in Guantanamo Bay. By his 16th birthday, my father had already established that he was more a man than I am to this day. He felt the calling and did something about it. He was a part of “The Greatest Generation” and I know why:
Courtesy of History.com:
At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.
With diplomatic negotiations with Japan breaking down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable, but nothing had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor. It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 a.m., two radio operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Thus, the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base.
Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded, many while valiantly attempting to repulse the attack. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory.
The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “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.” After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind.
The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives.