SCREAMIN’ FROM THE CHEAP SEATS – DECEMBER 7
By Leo Haggerty
SAILOR REST YOUR OAR
Today is one of the two days, along with September 11th, where sports pales in comparison with what transpired on this date almost a century ago. In case you need a reminder, and I am hoping no one does, please read below.
I would be totally remiss if I didn’t remind my loyal readers that today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. This is the 80th anniversary of, as President Franklin Roosevelt so succinctly stated “the day that will live in infamy”, the Japanese sneak attack on the United States naval base located in Hawaii on the island of Oahu which at that time was an American territory.
Earlier today, about 30 actual survivors attended the Memorial hosted by the Navy and the National Parks Service at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. This is where the USS Arizona, which is considered to be an active United States military cemetery, is submerged with at least 900 sailors entombed and where shipmates that survived the attack can be buried after they pass if they choose.
A somber date in American history but one that NEVER needs to be forgotten. Yes, the Japanese plan was to deliver a declaration of war in Washington, DC one hour before the attack. The problem was that document was delayed and not given to United States government officials until 50 minutes after the air assault began.
That made it a sneak attack that cost the lives 2,403 people that included 2,008 Navy personnel and 109 Marines along with 218 Army service members plus 68 civilians. After Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the mastermind of the invasion, was informed of what was cowardly action, prophetically said that “we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve” and he was not wrong.
After Pearl Harbor, the “Greatest Generation” was forced to come out swinging and enter the fray. Not only against the Empire of Japan but the authoritarian nations of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The United States Army did the job in Europe while the US Navy and Marines carried the “island hopping” load in the Pacific.
America got knocked down at Pearl Harbor but not out. The US got up off the mat at the count of eight and proceeded to grab victory from the jaws of defeat.
Sadly, the initial cost was extreme in terms of men and machine. 19 naval vessels, including eight battleships, were significantly damaged with three of the ships, the Arizona and Oklahoma as well as the Utah, unrepairable. Of the over 2,000 fatalities, 1,177 were on the Arizona alone.
So, my friends, take a moment to remember those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice at Pearl Harbor. May they rest in peace and never be forgotten.