May 27, 2020

Remembering Pearl Harbor

USSwv

Each year on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Survivors, veterans and visitors from all over the world come together to honor and remember the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

A further 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships – the USS Arizona and the USS Utah – and destroyed 188 aircraft.

On Aug. 23, 1994, the United States Congress designated Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Every year, remembrance events are held at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and around the country to commemorate the event.

With diplomatic negotiations with Japan breaking down, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers knew that an imminent Japanese attack was probable, but nothing had been done to increase security at the important naval base at Pearl Harbor.

It was Sunday morning, and many military personnel had been given passes to attend religious services off base. At 7:02 am, two radar operators spotted large groups of aircraft in flight toward the island from the north, but, with a flight of B-17s expected from the United States at the time, they were told to sound no alarm. Thus, the Japanese air assault came as a devastating surprise to the naval base.

Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men.

Fortunately for the United States, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea on training maneuvers. These giant aircraft carriers would have their revenge against Japan six months later at the Battle of Midway, reversing the tide against the previously invincible Japanese navy in a spectacular victory.

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 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.” After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan.

The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to one. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I.

Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind. The American contribution to the successful Allied war effort spanned four long years and cost more than 400,000 American lives.

Please join the members of the James Stewart Chapter in remembering the men and women that died 78 years ago year.

Many of our fathers, grandfathers, uncles and other family members were drafted into World War II following the declaration of war. Please have a moment of silence to remember those that died and those that served our country in all parts of the world.

(Source: History.com/Photo: Jackiewhiting.net)

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