The Times West Virginian

December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor attack 71 years ago today true day of ‘infamy’


Times West Virginian

— Dec. 7, 1941.

That was 71 years ago today.

That’s a long time ... 71 years. A very long time. If you asked people today what event occurred 71 years ago today, many of them would probably have to stop and think for a moment before answering.

That was the date when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor without warning,

Prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the invasion of Pearl Harbor stood out as the most-devastating single attack on the United States.

Dec. 7, 1941.

A total of 2,335 U.S. service members were killed that morning, and 1,143 were injured. Sixty-eight civilians were also killed, and 35 were wounded. These numbers were far more than the number of Japanese that were killed. Only 65 Japanese lost their lives.

The attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II. Thousands of U.S. families were broken up that day. Their lives would never be the same again with family members being killed. That’s what happens when more than 2,300 people become victims of war.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the U. S. president at that time, and most people remember his famous statement proclaiming Dec. 7, 1941 as “a date which will live in infamy.”

And that day did live in infamy.

Just for the record, Pearl Harbor is on the south side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu and is home to a U.S. naval base.

The Japanese specifically chose to attack on a Sunday because they believed Americans would be more relaxed and thus less alert on a weekend.

The Japanese launched their airplanes in two waves, approximately 45 minutes apart. The first wave of Japanese planes struck Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. The second wave reached Pearl Harbor around 8:40 a.m.

The United States declared war on Japan on Dec. 8, 1941, the day following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Remember Pearl Harbor!” became a rallying cry for the U.S. during World War II.

That remained a rallying cry until after the war was over.

During 1944 and 1945, the United States defeated the Japanese Navy and captured key West Pacific islands, eventually dropping atomic bombs on the country.

The Soviet Union followed through by declaring war on Japan and invading Manchuria. The Empire of Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, ending the war in Asia and cementing the total victory of the Allies.

It was a great day in August of 1945 for the United States when World War II came to an end. The Korean and the Vietnam wars would follow soon, but not until 9/11 in 2001 did the U.S. ever come under attack on the home front again. That’s when a series of four coordinated suicide attacks upon the United States in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania shocked the country.

 Nineteen terrorists from the Islamist militant group al-Qaida hijacked four passenger jets. The hijackers intentionally flew two of those planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City, with both towers collapsing within two hours.

Those crashes, and those that followed at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, changed the way Americans lived, just as Pearl Harbor had done 71 years ago today.

We all hope and pray that nothing like these two tragedies will ever happen again.