Remember Pearl Harbor
Today we honor the fallen warriors of Pearl Harbor's naval base. From the time of the event to modern society now there is controversial and myths out of the wood works on this tragic event.
1. The U.S. government had no knowledge of a potential Japanese attack before Dec. 7.
Beyond the obvious signs of Japan’s increasing aggression — including its sinking of an American naval vessel in the Yangtze Riverand its signing of the Tripartite Pact with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany — various specific war warnings had been sent by Washington to military commanders in the Pacific for some days before Dec. 7.
2. On Dec. 7, Japan attacked only Pearl Harbor.
Though the attack on Pearl Harbor was the most crippling and caused the most American losses, Japanese forces also struck the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand and Midway that day. In the Philippines, the capital fell to the Japanese in January 1942 and U.S. forces surrendered in May. In the Pacific, Wake Island was shelled by Japanese aircraft and ships until Dec. 11, when the Japanese attempted the first of two invasions before the island finally fell.
Guam was bombed and later invaded on Dec. 10. Malaya (now Malaysia) was invaded and fell early the following year. The invasion of Thailand lasted only a few hours before that country surrendered in December 1941. Other than Hawaii, Midway was the only target on Dec. 7 not to fall under Japanese control.
3. The U.S. military responded quickly and decisively.
For months after Pearl Harbor, the United States suffered defeat after defeat in the Pacific theater. Rumors swept the country on Dec. 8 that the Navy was in pursuit of the attacking Japanese fleet, but these were false. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, in command of the Army garrison in the Philippines, sent Roosevelt a telegram pleading for naval assistance, including for U.S. subs to target the Japanese vessels delivering troops, but the requests went unanswered. There was little assistance to offer the general, and the Philippines fell.
4. Japanese Americans were the only U.S. citizens rounded up after Pearl Harbor.
Within 48 hours of the attack, more than 1,000 people of Japanese, German and Italian descent, all considered “enemy aliens,” were detained by the FBI. By the end of the war, the government had interned, detained or restricted the movements of hundreds of thousands of people. Though Japanese Americans made up the majority of the roughly 120,000 people sent to internment camps, German Americans and Italian Americans were interned in Hawaii, while others were forced to move away from restricted areas on the mainland. In addition, more than 11,000 German residents of the United States were interned as well. An estimated 600,000 people of Italian descent were considered “enemy aliens” and kept under restrictions. Foreign diplomats from Germany, Japan and Italy were also rounded up and held.
5. The attack on Pearl Harbor convinced the public that the United States should enter World War II.
The attack persuaded Americans to support entering part of the war, not all of it. Before Pearl Harbor, the United States was largely isolationist, and there was almost no call to get involved in another European war. The America First movement, backed by public figures including Charles Lindbergh and Walt Disney, was growing in popularity. Its supporters had announced plans to participate in every congressional race in 1942 and support the most isolationist candidate, whether Republican or Democrat. After the attack, the America First movement came to a halt.
The attack on Pearl Harbor awoke America from its isolationist slumber and bolstered its charge into the Pacific war, but it did not spur entry into the European war. That happened when Nazi Germany and fascist Italy declared war on the United States on Dec. 11, compelling Roosevelt to respond in kind — thus committing the United States to a world war.
To our fallen