Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Pearl Harbor Remembered 69 Years Later

Today marks the 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the US naval installations at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

It was a day that will live in infamy.

Sadly, many of those who lived through, and fought at Pearl Harbor that Sunday morning, are no longer with us. The number of survivors of that day grows smaller by the day. Four years ago, a new memorial to the USS Oklahoma victims was dedicated. After the Arizona and the loss of 1,177 of the 1,400 sailors and Marines on board when Japanese bombs tore apart the ship's forward magazine, the Oklahoma lost 429 sailors and Marines — the second greatest loss of life among any of the battleships in Pearl Harbor.

The US Navy has a website with photos taken of Pearl Harbor before, during and after the attacks.

Pearl Harbor remains to this day a nexus of conspiracy theories. Just as there are now 9/11 conspiracy theorists, people considered that there were those in the US government, including President Roosevelt, who knew of the impending attacks and did nothing because he wanted to bring the US into the war. What gets forgotten is that Pearl Harbor was just one of a series of Japanese attacks planned on the same day and within two weeks of Pearl Harbor as part of a coordinated effort to eliminate British and American naval and military forces throughout the Pacific and Asian theater so that Japan could have unimpeded sources of raw materials and access.

December 7, 1941 - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; also attack the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway.
December 8, 1941 - U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan. Japanese land near Singapore and enter Thailand.
December 9, 1941 - China declares war on Japan.
December 10, 1941 - Japanese invade the Philippines and also seize Guam.
December 11, 1941 - Japanese invade Burma.
December 15, 1941 - First Japanese merchant ship sunk by a U.S. submarine.
December 16, 1941 - Japanese invade British Borneo.
December 18, 1941 - Japanese invade Hong Kong.
December 22, 1941 - Japanese invade Luzon in the Philippines.So, within two weeks of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese attacked everywhere from Borneo and Hong Kong to Mayasia, Midway, Thailand, Borneo, Burma and the Philippines.

That's not the sign of a nation that is looking to avoid war, but one that was intent upon carrying out its plans regardless of what the US did. The range of targets was designed to take the Pacific in one fell swoop and to knock the Allies off kilter at a time when the British and Soviets were focused on the European theater and the US wasn't even in the war - they were still technically neutral in the conflict in Europe.

Moreover, Japan had been at war with China since 1937 and that conflict was among the most brutal in Japan's war of aggression. Japan sought to confront the US on Japan's terms - Pearl Harbor was the time and place of Japan's choosing to eliminate and/or seriously degrade the US military capabilities. Japan may have seriously bloodied US forces at Pearl Harbor on that fateful day, but the Japanese forces did not hit the US aircraft carriers and didn't even touch the US military industrial complex that would soon produce more war material than Japan could ever conceive. Within a few short years, the US would not only replace the aged battleships that were damaged or destroyed at Pearl Harbor, but build more than a dozen new Essex class aircraft carriers, dozens of light aircraft carriers, tens of thousands of aircraft, thousands of ships of all types, and train personnel to operate them all.

Pearl Harbor awakened a slumbering giant. The end result was that Japan would see the extent of its military power and capabilities just a few months more before the US began pushing its way to the Japanese home islands.

Legalbgl posted photos of his trip to Pearl Harbor a few years back, and they're poignant in that they show how peaceful and placid the harbor is - much like the hours immediately preceding the attacks when the bolt from the blue brought war to US shores.

Video and photos added.

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