Today we mark the 69th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. On December 7, 1941, Japanese naval air forces launched a surprise attack the U.S. military stations on the island of Oahu, such as the facilities on Ford Island. A new Pearl Harbor visitor center will greet those who journey to the grave site of the U.S.S. Arizona. The loss of that ship accounted for nearly half of the nearly 2,400 killed on that day of infamy. The Pearl Harbor Memorial is perhaps one of the most solemn places to visit, overseeing the hulk of the U.S.S. Arizona. It, along with dozens of other sites on Oahu, make the Pearl Harbor history complete.
This year, there are fewer survivors left among us. The World War 2 generation is dying off quickly. Our society is becoming more discounted from that era. And yet, so much of our lives today are still wrapped up in the events and consequences of actions during that era. The long reach of history still grips us.
A case in point is the current situation in the Korean peninsula. The reason there are two Koreas is a direct result of WW2. The fact that despite Japan not wanting a military establishment following the war, and has steadily been nudged back into having one is quite relevant. Old rivalries with China still linger in the air. Even Russia wouldn’t mind settling an old score or two.
After being recalled by President Truman, General Douglas MacArthur spoke before a joint session of Congress. Part of speech dealt with our national policy, to which he begged “Don’t scuttle the Pacific.” He warned of appeasement and the growing threats of Chinese Communism, in addition to Soviet Communism.
MacArthur was always good for thoughtful speeches. His address on the quarterdeck of the U.S.S. Missouri during the Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay was another which should be read by all school children today. MacArthur was not a war monger. He wanted peace more than most and knew the price war cost. Yet, he also knew that peace was maintained through strength, vigilance and determination.
The problems we face today in the Western Pacific have not changed all that much since then. If anything, it has gotten worse. Japan is now actually considering developing a nuclear arms program. South Korea is, too. This will not sit well with China. Unlike our reluctance to take direct action against North Korea, back when it was possible in the 1990s, China may exercise a firmer hand.
As you may read in the link below, there were plenty of warning signs prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some 43 radio intercepts revealed during the court martial trials of Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short showed that they were kept in the dark of Japanese activities and intentions. Today, as we recall the Pearl Harbor history, we see that there is a reluctance to accept the hard truth and make unwise choices as a result. But on this Pearl Harbor Day, we try to remember, and learn, from December 7, 1941, a day that still lives in infamy. The Pearl Harbor Memorial, over the location of the sunken U.S.S. Arizona, is perhaps the most beautiful and solemn in the world.