Today we look back on December 7, 1941. The empire of Japan launched a surprise attack leveled at the naval base at Pearl Harbor. For the Imperial Japanese Navy it was a surprise attack that they had been practicing for months. For the U.S. Navy it caught them completely off-guard; it was previously speculated that if Japan attacked it would come on a weekend, possibly a Saturday, not Sunday, and in a different location, perhaps San Diego or any number of small island bases across the Pacific. Some people, including the legendary Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, believed that the future of warfare surrounded aircraft carriers, not battleships, and that an attack such as Pearl Harbor was possible. He also surmised that within ten years of his call for more carriers that an attack from a carrier group would be used against the United States.
The attack lasted for nearly two hours, and by the time it was finished four of America’s battleships had been sunk. The Japanese Navy was not able to attack the U.S. carrier fleet, which had been taken out into the Pacific for fear of having all of the Navy’s major ships in one location. The Japanese aircraft, 353 in all, attacked the eight battlewagons and many cruisers, destroyers, and even a minelayer. This unprecedented attack crippled the Navy’s Pacific fleet, but awakened a nation. Americans across the nation filled recruitment centers the next day, and the true economic might of the United States came to bear against a foreign invader. From the crushing economic decline of the Great Depression to the reinvigoration of an infrastructure fueled by the capitalism only a country as America could count on its production and populous in order to free the world of tyranny and oppression. By mid 1942 the Pacific fleet was once again strong enough to take the offensive to the enemy, and with their victory at Midway they showed the world that America could even overcome an attack as devastating as Pearl Harbor. An entire nation came together as one voice, to tell the world that America is a strong and great nation, and to show that such atrocities and evil could not survive the might of a free people such as Americans. Companies such as Ford, Goodyear and GM changed their production lines from their products to essential war materiel such as Jeeps, B-24 bombers, F4U Corsairs and even bullets and cannon shells. Even the families at home helped to win the war. With Victory Gardens more packaged supplies could be sent to the front lines. Housewives across the nation saved cooking grease (of which could be made glycerin, an integral part of making gunpowder for bullets) and families donated scrap metals in order to have enough materials to make aircraft and military vehicles. Because of Pearl Harbor America entered WWII, and through the power of the freedom her citizens hold she won the war. The military personnel who were killed at Pearl Harbor will never be forgotten, and through their sacrifice we are reminded every day that freedom is not free, and the world is reminded that attacks on America and her people are not taken lightly, and will be met with a swift backlash, and subsequent defeat will be soon at hand. On this, the 75th. anniversary of the ‘Day which will live in infamy’ we look back and remember those brave individuals who were willing to lose their life for our country in order so that we could be free.
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