Dec 2, 2014

Remember the "Day of Infamy"

Tora! Tora! was the Japanese code-word made famous when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 propelling the United States into World War II.  The term means “tiger” but in this case it was an acronym meaning “lightning attack.” On December 11, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan; in return, on the same day Germany and Italy, Japanese allies, declared war on the United States.

Visiting Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu is a profound experience and visitors should plan to spend the better part of the day there because there is a lot to see and do.  The main attraction is the USS Arizona Memorial with an informative 23-minute movie followed by a boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial which is built atop the ship that is the final resting place for 1,177 of the USS Arizona’s crewmen. It was the greatest loss of life on any US warship in American history. The names and ranks of the crewmen are listed on the memorial wall. There were 37 sets of brothers on
board that fateful day. Nearby in the water are memorials to the other ships destroyed on that Day of Infamy. When the USS Arizona sank there were more than a million gallons of fuel on board. Some of it still surfaces. Survivors have called the oil droplets “Black Tears.” It helps to get USS Arizona tour tickets on line; however, the National Park Service gives out over 2000 free walk-up tickets each day on a first come basis. The tour of the USS Arizona take about two hours but there is much more to see there.

For Americans the Pearl Harbor attack was the beginning of World War II but the war had already started in Europe with the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and in Asia the fighting started when the Japanese invaded China in 1937. The formal end of the WW II took place on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945 and was broadcast
throughout the world.  Gen. MacArthur said, “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed.”  Today the USS Missouri is at anchor in Pearl Harbor. Nearby on Historic Ford Island is the Pacific Aviation Museum with two hangers of exhibits.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was intended to prevent the US Pacific Fleet from interfering with the Japanese plan to take over other areas in the Pacific.  Many people do not realize that the attack on Pearl Harbor was part of a greater offensive. On the same day (it was December 8 in Asia) they were simultaneous Japanese attacks on the US-held Philippines, Wake Island, and Midway Island; plus, there were assaults on Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The Japanese did not occupy the island
of Oahu like they did the other places they attacked which led to the people in those areas suffering from Japanese occupation much the same as those in China. Interestingly, Hawaii and the Philippines, prior to December 1941, were considered great places to be stationed. We learned more at the US National Parks in Guam and Saipan, plus the WW II museum in Singapore. At the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas they have a realistic battle reenactment several times a week.