God bless our military past and present on this tragic day in history.
On Sunday, December 7th, 1941, Pearl Harbor suffered a sneak attack by the Japanese. Pearl Harbor was home of the US Pacific fleet and the largest concentration of U.S. forces in the Pacific.
The day after the attack, President Roosevelt declared war describing the attack as “a date which will live in infamy.”
He continued: “The American people with righteous might will win through to absolute victory…with confidence in our armed forces, with the unbending determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph so help us God.”
America’s entrance into the war was welcomed by the embattled European nations.
A total of 2,403 died as a result of the attack and almost two-thirds died within 15 minutes of the bombing of the battleships Oklahoma, Utah and Arizona: US Navy – 2,008, USMC – 109, US Army – 218, Civilians – 68
We could have lost our entire fleet, but the U.S. carriers were not at Pearl Harbor. On 28 November, Admiral Kimmel sent USS Enterprise to deliver Marine Corps fighter planes to Wake Island. On December 7 the task force was on its way back to Pearl Harbor. On 5 December, Admiral Kimmel sent the USS Lexington to deliver 25 scout bombers to Midway Island. The last Pacific carrier, USS Saratoga, had left Pearl Harbor for upkeep and repairs on the West Coast.
The USS Arizona battle ship (pictured above and below) took a direct hit from a Japanese torpedo dropped from a plane, which caused the ship to explode in a massive inferno which killed many of her crew in just a few seconds.
The USS Arizona sits at the bottom of Pearl Harbor with the 1,177 souls who died seventy-three years ago today, also on a Sunday.
The ship is the site of a memorial. When you visit the memorial, you are asked to remain respectful and silent, which is something no one needs to be told once one is in this solemn environment.
To this day, bubbles continually appear on the water surface above the Arizona, they call from the graves below and provide visitors with a haunting, moving image that brings history into the present day.
The bond formed among these men on the ship was so strong that many survivors have chosen to be cremated all these years later to have their ashes scattered at the site. Still others have their ashes placed in an urn and taken down to the ship by Navy divers.
Pearl Harbor, Rare Color Film of the ship underwater:
Pearl Harbor survivors meet up today in Hilo in honor of the tragic event.
At the reunion, Louis Conter, 93,of Grass Valley California, said, “I don’t think this is going to be our last. … We’ve still got time to go. We’ll be back out here no matter whether the rest of the crowd can make it or not.”
Donald Stratton, 92, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was one of the few survivors of a gun director in the forward part of the ship. More than 65 percent of his body was burned. Stratton was hospitalized for more than year and then was medically discharged from the Navy.
He re-enlisted a year later. “The good Lord saved just a few of us,” he said.
During a private event Sunday, the men will toast their shipmates, drinking from replicas of champagne glasses from the Arizona. They will share a bottle of sparkling wine that was a gift to the survivors association from President Gerald Ford’s visit to Spain in 1975.
A rare color documentary: