Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day

On December 7, 1941 at approximately 8:00 AM the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in O'ahu, Hawaii, which was a territory of the United States. The attack came without warning. The next day the United States declared war on Japan.

My father was in his senior year in college when the US declared war. Dad enlisted in the Coast Guard and spent 18 months on isolated duty in the Aleutian Islands watching for the enemy to invade. My mother was in her senior year in high school and worked her way through college during the war, observing the rationing and hard work that went on while the US changed from a domestic peace economy into a war based economy. Everyone did their share to support the war effort.

Dad's basic training took place in St. Augustine, FL during July and August. He and several hundred other young men stayed at the Ponce de León Hotel, about six to a room. A few years back I took a guided tour of St. Augustine and the tour guide elaborated on the Ponce, speaking in superlatives about what a luxurious hotel it was. I got tired of listening and commented that my father had stayed at the place for several weeks and didn't like it a bit. Dad said that the conditions were pure misery and room service was very unreliable. My observations were greeted by a long silence as the woman was trying to decide just how to deal with this outspoken miscreant. I bailed her out by reminding her of WWII, which she was quick to verify.

I write this today to remind anyone who cares to read it about the truth of Japan. The Japanese attacked the United States without warning or provocation - up until this attack the US had been carefully neutral, militarily speaking. Some historians will dispute this, as the US was supplying the Allies at the expense of the Axis which they argue was provocation enough.

Japan wanted to invade the US so as to control Western oil supplies, shipping and ship building facilities in San Francisco. One thing that gave Japan second thoughts about an invasion was the Second Amendment. Japan believed that all US citizens were armed and would fight, which was partly true. Certainly many were armed, and those that were armed would willingly fight. Anyone not armed could buy a rifle, pistol or shotgun along with ammunition down at the local hardware store. There was no registration involved with firearms and very little gun control back then.

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and demanded that Japan surrender. When those demands fell on deaf ears, on August 9 the United States dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki. This time the Emperor paid attention. Japan signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on September 6, 1945.

World War II was four years of misery, finally brought to a successful conclusion for the Allies. This war was not an easy victory, nor was it a particularly spectacular victory. Winning was a near thing for the Allies. I think that the people of the United States are tending to forget WWII and what happened, and what could have happened. I don't believe for a minute that Japan has ever forgotten, or will ever forget.

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