A Day of Infamy That Changed the World

Yesterday was, of course, Pearl Harbor Day, the day when we commemorate the sneak attack which brought us into World War II. It changed the world and our role in it irrevocably. I don’t have a lot new to say, here are my thoughts.

We often talk of World War II, it was a major series of events in American and world history, as long as those survivors were in charge, things were better than ever, as they leave the stage, we are seeming to come face-to-face with the fact that they went to easy on us, and the discipline to succeed in the real world appears to be lacking. We need to look back and take the lesson that America was taught starting today, 73 years ago.

73 years ago today, America was attacked at Pearl Harbor. We were thus thrust onto center stage of the 20th Century’s biggest conflict and the most clear-cut war for liberty in the history of the world. It’s a day to remember the sacrifices made by that generation, who are now leaving us at a very rapid pace. They saved the world for freedom, this would be a very good day to thank them. In this video, I want you to listen to resolve of Franklin Roosevelt, in it you will learn much about leadership in a free country.

My friend Mac, The Lean Submariner brings us a sea story, but a true one, about a man that was there, and who won the Medal of Honor there.

The United States in 1941 was tense and filled with anticipation about the war in Europe. But nothing could prepare the nation for the events that were about to transpire. The nation and the Japanese had long been on a collision course because of the nature of their two cultures. But the population at large had no sense of the grotesque nature of that clash that would occur in the coming days. Or the cost for both nations over the next four years.

 

Washington Evening star. December 06, 1941,

“Silent Prayer Banned At Japanese Shrines

Silent prayers for the dead, which have been said at shrines and temples in Japan ever since the great earthquake of 1924, have been banned.

The Shrine Board in Tokio has ruled that praying silently is a “Christian custom alien to traditions” and requests that, instead, people give two deep bows and two handclaps.”

On the night before December 7, there was only one reference to Japan in the paper which served the nation’s capital.

That is a story not told nearly often enough. BZ Mac!

Over at Chicago Boyz, Sgt. Mom brings us a fictional story of the how the day affected lives, and still does. It may be fiction, but I think it true as well. And a reminder, should we need it, of those who wait, sometimes forever for their love to return.

(I was inspired last year about this time to do a fictional short for the Luna City universe, drawing on certain family memories of that time. The story itself is included in this collection,)

Adeliza Gonzalez-Gonzales – who was never called anything but ‘Adi’ back then – was just thirteen when her older brother Manuel – Manolo to the family, Manny to his Anglo friends – came to Papi and Mama and said to them, “Papi, I want to see more of the world than Karnes County, an’ at the Navy recruiting office, they say that I’ll get a paycheck nice and regular, and I can work on ship engines that are bigger than this house. Besides, everyone says if America gets into a war, then they’ll be drafting men my age, an’ I don’t wanna be a soldier, marching around in the mud and all that. The Navy lives good, and they say that the food is great. Can I have your permission, Papi?”

Mama got all pinch-faced and weepy, because Manolo was her favorite and oldest child. Papi sighed and looked solemn and grave, saying, “Manolo – mi hijo – if this is what you truly want, I will sign the papers.” To Mama, he added, “Do not cry, Estella, can you see your boy as a soldier, following orders?”

“But he still must follow orders – the Navy is as military as the army,” Adeliza piped up, and Manolo jeered and replied, “Nothing like the same at all, Adi!”

Manolo packed a few things in a cheap cardboard suitcase, and climbed aboard the bus to the city, and in time over the next three years the postman delivered hastily-scrawled letters and postcards; letters with odd postmarks and postcards of splendidly colored landscapes and exotic places. Manolo came home on leave once, in the summer, splendid in his white uniform and round white cap, carrying a heavy duffel-bag over his shoulder with apparent ease, seeming to have expanded from a boy into a man. Manolo was greatly excited. His ship was being transferred from the West Coast to the Hawaiian Islands. He brought presents for the family, a breath of fresh air and tales of travels in exotic far lands. Later, he sent his little sister a scarf of silk gauze, printed with a map of the Hawaiian Islands and pineapples and exotic flowers. Adi put it in the chip-carved box where she kept her handkerchiefs and her most precious small possessions. From that time on, a tinted picture-portrait of Manolo in his uniform sat in pride of place on the cabinet radio and Mama kept a candle burning before it always, a candle dedicated to Saint Peter, who had the particular care of sailors.

That is some powerful writing, and when I read it yesterday, I missed that it was fiction. But it doesn’t matter, I think, it may not be any one  in particular, but I suspect it is all of them. The results of the day still echo down time. That war affects almost everything in the world, and the fact that we won it, is the basic fact of the 20th century, the reason it is called the American Century. There were indications before, but that really started on 7 December 1941, as America went to war.

 

About Neo
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

12 Responses to A Day of Infamy That Changed the World

  1. Scoop says:

    This post reminds me of by early school days in Hawaii . . . not too long after the end of the 2nd WW and the truce in Korea.

    I lived in Pearl City, Hawaii back in ’53-’54 and used to play up on Red Hill which had a tunnel dug by the military to connect the highlands down to Pearl Harbor. They would transport guns and ammunition, tanks and such from the port to the highlands overlooking Pearl Harbor.

    On several occasions my brother and I heard yells within those abandoned tunnels and had no idea who or what they might be . . . so we would run home scared out of our wits. Turned out that the voice was from a Japanese soldier who hid out in those caves after the war and after the disuse of those tunnels (with simple chicken wire to keep out wild animals) for almost 10 years. He only went out at night to scavenge food from the trash and return to his tunnel at night. He had no idea that the Japanese had surrendered many years before.

    In years to come I can remember hearing similar stories where Japanese were found 20 or more years later and had the same lack of knowledge. It seemed that the Japanese culture was so foreign to ours. They would rather hide out for decades than to surrender to their enemies though no signs of an ensuing war were present . . . having ceased years or decades before.

    Liked by 2 people

    • NEO says:

      Yeah, I remember those stories, as well. What I never really understood was why they didn’t continue to fight, but I suppose the answer was that they weren’t trained to take initiative,, only follow orders.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scoop says:

        Most of them had expended their munitions long before. It is why I hate to listen to the moralists who complain about our use of nukes in Japan. If they had fought in Japan or understood the culture of the Japanese they would have known that to a man they would have fought forever or until they ran out of stones to throw. Many more millions would have died as a result.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Scoop says:

          Survey the soldiers that fought in Okinawa if you want to get a sense of what we were up against.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep. I think it was Bob Greene (and he’s pretty liberal) who wrote about his dad, an infantry major who was transhipping at the time, when he told him he was interviewing BGEN Tibbets told him to thank him for saving his life. I’ve heard that from almost every soldier who served in the war. The bomb was a terrible swift sword, but not the most terrible thing, for either country.

          By the way, we have never had to reorder purple hearts since that day, they had so many bought for the invasion, and they had another order in that they were able to cancel.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Scoop says:

          I can believe it. It would have been horrific.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, Admiral Halsey was correct when (in 1942) he said, “The Japanese language will be spoken only in Hell,” Downright Biblical it would have been, and not in a good way, but necessary.

          Liked by 1 person

    • the unit says:

      Very interesting Scoop. Our memories working pretty good. We got a few more years before asking…”James, where we going today?” 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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