Remembering Pearl Harbor: A Date That Will Live in Infamy

The infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is shown in this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo. The USS Arizona is pictured in flames after being hit. Radio announcer Roger Krupp didn't hesitate to interrupt his Sunday programming, Dec. 7, 1941, to read The Associated Press news flash to listeners of WTCN-AM in Minneapolis. Now officials at Sotheby's auction house say he may, in fact, have been the first announcer to hit the air with news of the attack that drew the United States into World WarII. Media experts and World War II historians are skeptical of the claim, but Sotheby's expects to fetch $3,000 to $5,000 for the tattered teletype in an auction scheduled to take place Monday in New York. (U.S. Navy, File)

Why is it important that we remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, a painful piece of U.S. and military history that to new generations of Americans seems far in the past — even overwhelmed by the more recent Day of Infamy II, the attacks of 9/11?

There are thousands of reasons the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, will be forever a touchstone for our nation and the foundation for America’s evolving role in the world for the next several decades.

The numbers alone tell the compelling story of that morning in what was then a lonesome U.S. naval outpost in Hawaii, a string of island that would become a state less than 20 years later. It came under attack without warning from Japan, as Hitler was commanding a marauding German force across Europe. Horrifying events in Europe were well known in America, a nation at that time battling exceptional economic distress and in no mood to go to war.

And then came Pearl Harbor, which launched our nation into war with Japan. Later, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S., which sealed our entry into World War II.

Life would be forever different as a result. Consider:

—2,388 Americans died in the air attack and 1,178 Americans were wounded

—21 American ships were sunk or damaged

—323 American aircraft were destroyed or damaged

—1,177 Americans involved in the attack were serving on the USS Arizona

—Only 333 servicemen serving on the USS Arizona survived the attack

While it’s heartening to note that an average of 4,000 people tour the site of the Pearl Harbor attack each day and 1.5 million visit the USS Arizona memorial annually, according to the National Park Service, it still seems the attack strays further from our national consciousness. It’s become something present generations are only aware of via movies and TV. The escalating demise of the “Greatest Generation” is putting this critical event in U.S. history evermore into the rear-view mirror of modern society. The gathering of Pearl Harbor survivors grows smaller.

Today, as people converge in Honolulu or other sites to mark the anniversary of what has become known as Pearl Harbor Day, it is instructive to remember the impact and legacy of this epic event. Author Peter Dowswell, in his 2003 book “Pearl Harbor,” writes that for 60 years Pearl Harbor lived up to President Franklin Roosevelt‘s description as “a date that will live in infamy.”

“It has been invoked to remind Americans about the consequences of treachery by foreign powers and complacency in government. The United States’ foreign policy has been based on the thinking ‘No more Pearl Harbors’ ever since,” he wrote.

In a larger sense, though, the attack on Pearl Harbor sealed America’s fate to be a global leader during World War II and beyond — a role this nation still plays.

Republished from the New Bern Sun Journal

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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