Wednesday, December 7, 2011

70 Years Ago: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

This photo, taken by my father, is dated 1943, so it's a couple of years after Pearl Harbor, but it shows just how young the brave American soldiers that fought in the war, really were. This is below decks, in the engine room of a destroyer. 

December 7th, 2011—Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the beginning of the United States' involvement in World War Two. According to news reports, it's the last time the Pearl Harbor's survivors' group will meet on the island. There just aren't that many of these heroic Americans left, and those that are still with us, are well into their 80s and 90s, making the trip just too much for them. It's up to the rest of us now to remember this day which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt characterized as, "... a day that will live in infamy."

The text from FDR's December 8th, 1941 speech:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Though it sounds so small when you think of the sacrifices made by millions of people around the world, I give my profound thanks to all those brave men and women that fought for the free world all those decades ago.




  2. I extend my thanks, as well. We must never forget...

  3. I think the 'Day of Infamy' may have been trumped four years later when the United States dropped atomic bombs on two cities in Japan.

    The truly sad lesson is that politics always gets in the way, leaving those who gave their lives and served their country honorably the sad victims of war.

    Hopefully not only will we remember but learn from these past events as well. Seventy years later and we still are sending our young men and women off to fight in foreign lands, many giving their lives and and many more their mental well being.

    I'm always thankful for the brave ones who serve but I remain suspect of those in power that make the choice of war.

  4. well said, Annie. there should always be an alternative to war. thanks.

  5. Amen, Annie.

    Casey, that is a beautiful photo!

  6. History Channel had a fascinating show last night about the first 24 hours after the Pearl Harbor attack. Some of the re-enactments were a bit hokey but the information was very interesting and some of it was new, even to me who has read extensively about WWII and the Roosevelts. You can probably still catch in on On-Demand.

    Paul, NYC

  7. History is so different when you know someone personally that experienced a particular event firsthand.
    Was your father stationed in Hawaii when this occurred?

    I suggest watching Flags Of Our Fathers & Letters of Iwo Jima.

  8. My father never really talked about it, but he must have been in Pearl Harbor about a week before the attack. His ship was in the South Pacific on that day, December 7th, and they turned around and had new orders once war was declared. He was aboardship off Japan's coast when the atom bombs were dropped and he saw the mushroom clouds. The doctors 35 years later attributed that to his declining health. At the age of 64 his internal organs were more like 100 years old they said, and said it was probably the result of the radiation all of those sailors received aboard their ships when the bombs were dropped.