Pearl Harbor

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Pearl Harbor, 75 Years Ago and The American Spirit

Seventy-five years ago, today our views of America as “Untouchable” were forever changed in the early morning of December 7 at Pearl Harbor.  As the daily routines were just starting, men were sleeping, cooking, working around the ships, and going about their daily assignments as small dots began to fill the sky in the distance.  There was no warning and from what initially was called “birds” on radar came the raining down of bullets and bombs from the Japanese bombers.  They proceeded to not only to severely cripple the United States Navy in the Pacific, but to also, as Churchill would later state, to awake the “Sleeping Giant” or ignite the American Spirit from the flame in Pearl Harbor. Up to this point, the United States believed that any base on U.S. soil could not be reached by a foreign power.  Unlike Europe and the rest of the world, we believed we, and we alone, was the only nation that nobody could strike.  We always knew we could, and did, send troops around the world to fight, but not since our own Civil War in the 1860s had anyone fired a military shot on U.S. soil. By the end of the second wave of attacks, the United States had lost over two thousand sailors, almost twenty Navy ships, and around three hundred planes.   For most nations, this would have been the signal to seek peace, even consider surrendering.  The United States was left with a handful of ships to defend the entire Pacific Ocean against the growing Japanese Navy.  It must have seemed like the first day of the end of the world.  But something unique happened and grew out of the attack. As Churchill had said, the “Sleeping Giant” was now wide awake and the Japanese nation had no idea just what sort of giant that had awakened at 7:55 a.m. on December 7.  The President immediately went to Congress and demanded a declaration of war – he received it.  He then turned to the American people, reassured them, set the nation to task, and started the greatest war drive any country has ever seen. Everyone joined in as a “United” country as the American Spirit torched across the country.  The media promoted the war effort and supported the country, factories went into mass production of weapons, planes, guns, tanks, and everything else that could be imagined.  Companies like IBM that had weathered the depression by stockpiling typewriters, suddenly found a market and flooded their typewriters into all branches of the military.  Children gathered aluminum, rubber, and other metals all to be recycled and sent to war.  Men and women came from the fields, from the cities, from the small towns, and from across all of America to sign up to fight, serve, and defend.  Old men took up helmets and binoculars and watched the coast lines to warn should the Japanese arrive.  Americans stockpiled and cleaned their shotguns and hunting rifles, determined that should the Japanese land, they would have to fight from house-to-house and kill every American just to take an inch of land.  It was the greatest, and possibly the last, united effort this country has ever seen develop into one big rolling “Giant” with one goal in mind – defeat Japan. Continue Reading →

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