My Thoughts. . .
Seventy-nine years ago, the sun made its usual appearance on that specific Sunday morning. That day would be different. Some would never see the sun rise or set again. It was almost 8 am. Some were sleeping in. Others were early risers, looking for their Sunday paper. There were some parents planning with family to attend Sunday School and maybe church services. For military installations, it was just another Sunday. No drills were scheduled which they had experienced earlier.
The Army Air Force was expecting a group of B-17 bombers from the United States. Radar was in its infancy and the personnel assigned to it reported a number of airplanes approaching. The officer in charged marked them off as the arriving B-17 bombers. A female flight instructor was with her student that morning when they were overtaken by that armada seen on radar. She and her student immediately pulled away from those aircrafts with their painted red circles.
Ships in the harbor were beginning to have their morning exercises and the raising of the U.S. Flag on their sterns. The roar of numerous engines caused some to look skyward and question why some aircraft were flying too low. Suddenly wings and cowling began lighting up with machine gun fire which took its toll on deck personnel. The U.S. Pacific fleet was caught completely by surprise on that December 7th in 1941. Few, if any of the ships’ anti-aircraft guns were loaded. Airfields were shocked even more. Planes had been parked close together. Japanese Zeros strafed those bunched up aircraft, igniting them. Like dominos falling, one exploding plane ignited another. Less than a half dozen P-40 fighters were capable of responding. They were successful in destroying some of the aggressors but were immediately set upon by the Japanese fighters. The Japanese lost 29 planes, with 129 killed and 1 individual who was taken prisoner. The Hawaiian airfields lost 160 planes destroyed and 150 damaged. The incoming B-17 bombers found themselves in a hazardous position. Some were destroyed.
Japanese torpedo planes made their runs. The battleship Arizona was hit and sunk with sailors below deck. The Japanese were successful in damaging 19 ships anchored at Pearl Harbor with 8 being battleships. Providentially, the three carriers were at sea. 2,403 service personnel lost their lives in that attack. 68 civilians were killed. When the waves of Japanese aircraft returned to their ships, the harbor was left in shambles with fire and smoke as a testimony of their success.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately asked Congress to declare war on Japan and Germany. America was now engaged, with its Allies, in World War II. It would end when both Germany and Japan surrendered, and war was official declared to have ceased on September 2, 1945. During those years, from 1939 to 1945, there was a total of 20 million military deaths and 40 million civilians. Of that number, USA military deaths were 407,316. Out of the 11,623,468 men and women who served in WW II, very few are still living today.
For some who are younger, WW II is much like the Civil War. It happened, but that is past history. I remember as a preschooler that families did not want to see a Western Union employee walking to their front door. He usually had bad news of a family member, serving in the military, losing his life in Europe or the Pacific. Some do not know that Japan attempted to bring the war to the West Coast. Hitler’s submarines sunk many ships leaving the East Coast to help supply England and our armed forces. Hitler was closer to developing the atomic bomb before we did. He did not have planes capable of reaching our shores to bomb New York or Washington, D.C., but desired that capability. Japanese war decisions that went sour gave the USA and Allies some advantages which were sorely needed. A positive picture was not being painted for the USA in the early part of the war in the Pacific. The Battle of the Bulge in Europe could have been in Hitler’s favor and devastating to our war effort.
Although some might argue negatively, God did favor the USA and Allies. No nation is perfect. All make mistakes. Allies become antagonistic while former enemies become friends. However, bad decisions have led to further conflict rather than peace. Hitler had a unique way of squelching objections to his dreams of establishing a world kingdom. Such individuals rise up from time to time to destroy freedom for others while giving special privileges to themselves. History often repeats itself. Lessons from such are seldom learned, only forgotten until reminded in adverse ways. WW II would not be the war to end all wars. Why? Man is successful in being his own worst enemy.