Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7, 1941: A Date Which Will Live In Infamy!

It's time to Break It Down!

Seventy years ago today, an incursion of the highest order befell our great nation.  On that fateful Sunday in early December, the Japanese Empire, with the aid of its naval and air forces, attacked the American military installation at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Although, Hawaii did not officially become the 50th State until June 27, 1959, the Republic of Hawaii was annexed, and had become the incorporated U.S. Territory of Hawaii on July 6, 1898.  To wit, America was, in an instant, immersed in World WarII (WWII), by default.

The next day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) met with the U.S. Congress to request a Declaration of War, and in so doing, uttered these now famous words: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval andair forces of the Empire of Japan.”

This brazen and unmitigated act of war had surprised the American military establishment, and the Country as a whole.  While we as Americans remember the pillage at Pearl Harbor, the comprehensive nature of the Japanese attacks, though amply documented, is less well-known.  In fact, over a two-day span, Japan spread a torrent of carnage throughout the Pacific, including:

·         Torpedoing ships between Honolulu and San Francisco

·         Launching an offensive against Malaya

·         Assailing Hong Kong

·         Raiding Guam

·         Attacking the Philippine Islands

·         Raiding Wake Island

·         Invading Midway Island

FDR’s request was granted of course.  Four days later, on December 11th, Germany and Italy, which had signed a three-nation pact with Japan on September 27, 1940, declared war on the United States.  In his prepared statement, Adolph Hitler declared Germany and Italy were compelled to defend their ally, Japan.  At that point, it’s fair to say it was on!  From December 7, 1941, until Japan surrendered, unconditionally, on September 2, 1945, global Armageddon raged.  Over those 3 ¾ years, many of the key operational dynamics would shift, change, or otherwise be altered, as is always the case during periods of war.  During this time frame:

The War had actually begun in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland on September 1st; it lasted six years.  During that span, in what was the second World War in 25 years, every major world power was involved in a war for global domination.  By the end, over 60 million people had lost their lives.  Ultimately, the conclusion of the war was precipitated by the United States unleashing the cataclysmic and previously unknown forces of nuclear weaponry.  It was only after the U.S. destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a three-day period that the Japanese Empire was persuaded to surrender, which for all practical purposes, ended the war.

So it is with much respect, simple humility, and a heavy dose of sadness that I salute the millions pressed to service to defend the world as we know it against the rapacious desires of those in search of global hegemony and world domination.  In any version of this story America deserves a special place.  As a nation we resisted direct involvement until victimized by a lethal and unprompted frontal assault.  After engaging, we worked with allied forces to try and repel the efforts of relentless transgressors.  Finally, when nothing else worked, we introduced a wild card, the most lethal weapons’ system known to man; the Atomic Bomb.  The resulting death and devastation was so stunningly pervasive, a heretofore recalcitrant enemy was forced, immediately to “call it off.

We now live in the nuclear age of course.  Many nations have access to nuclear weapons, while others are trying to attain them.  What the future holds is uncertain.  But we know for sure that any number of countries have The Bomb at their disposal, and there are enough nuclear weapons stored around the world to destroy the earth, many times over.  With what should be mixed emotions, as Americans, we also know that the only nation ever to unleash the fury of this potential “world-ender” is us, as in the U.S.  In that regard, it was then, and remains today, an absolute truth, “December 7, 1941: A Date Which Will Live In Infamy!”

I’m done; holla back!

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1 comment:

Soulgoal said...

Brother Leon,

Thanks for reminding us of "the day which will live in infamy." Many lives were lost during the 3 3/4 years of global carnage which included The Final Solution phase of the Holocaust. During this period, Adolph Hitler expressed his frustration over the pace of deportation of Jews in Germany.

Reinhard Heydrich therefore convened the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to finalize a plan for the extermination of the Jews.[119] The plan became known as Aktion Reinhard (Operation Reinhard) after Reinhard Heydrich, who chaired the conference. Also present were Eichmann, Heinrich Müller, head of the Gestapo, and representatives of the branches of government which would be involved.[117]

A plan was presented for killing all the Jews in Europe, including 330,000 Jews in England and 4,000 in Ireland,[119] although the minutes taken by Eichmann refer to this only through euphemisms, such as " ... emigration has now been replaced by evacuation to the East. This operation should be regarded only as a provisional option, though in view of the coming final solution of the Jewish question it is already supplying practical experience of vital importance."[119]

The officials were told there were 2.3 million Jews in the General Government, 850,000 in Hungary, 1.1 million in the other occupied countries, and up to 5 million in the USSR, although 2 million of these were in areas still under Soviet control — a total of about 6.5 million. These would all be transported by train to extermination camps (Vernichtungslager) in Poland, where almost all of them would be gassed at once. In some camps, such as Auschwitz, those fit for work would be kept alive for a while, but eventually all would be killed.

A tragic part of world history which began well before the US decided to enter World War II. Unfortunate, Herbert Hoover, FDR and our leaders in Congress chose to sit our the early phases of the Holocaust which began in the early 1930's and escalated with the rise of the Third Reich culminating in the invasion of Poland.

The fate of the Jewish people are inalterably linked to the history of America and our collective story of redemption, restoration, hope and change.

Please continue your great work.

Larry Alston