Japanese attack rallied US

Today marks 80 years since the Empire of Japan launched its air raid on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, wreaking destruction on this country’s war vessels stationed there and killing more than 2,300 American service members in the process.

As Robert R. Garnett, a professor of English literature at Gettysburg College, wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 7, 2016, 75 years after that attack, “Japan’s great victory, however, was a catastrophic miscalculation. Never since have Americans been so collectively aroused, ignited and determined. The empire’s doom was assured even before the attacking aircraft had returned to their carriers 200 miles north of Oahu. Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander in chief of the Japanese fleet and architect of the attack, feared as much. If ordered to go to war with America, he had warned, ‘I can guarantee to put up a tough fight for the first six months, but I have absolutely no confidence as to what would happen if it went on for two or three years.'”

Exactly six months later, on June 7, 1942, what Garnett described as a “shattered Japanese strike force” retreated from Midway Island without four of its aircraft carriers, which were “at rest” at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Even though World War II did not end until 1945, Yamamoto’s words proved prophetic as early as the Midway confrontation.

Upon learning about the Pearl Harbor attack, Britain’s Winston Churchill was prophetic as well, but about the war in Europe as well as about Japan. He proclaimed that Hitler’s fate was sealed while the Japanese “would be ground to powder.” And, that prediction about Japan seemed right on target when atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to Japan’s quick unconditional surrender.

There never is a shortage of news articles related to Dec. 7 as that date approaches.

One year ago today, the Mirror’s front page featured “Painful memories” — about war survivors’ Pearl Harbor recollections, including about the USS Arizona, which quickly sank after being hit by two bombs. More than 900 men remain entombed on the ship that still rests on the harbor’s seafloor.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press article in August 2002 reported about evidence that the U.S. had fired first on Dec. 7, 1941. The evidence in question was a sunken Japanese submarine that had been involved in a skirmish with an American vessel about an hour before the aerial attack.

Prior to discovery of the sunken submarine that August, historians had had no proof of the sinking nor the timeline of the war’s actual start.

Then there was the story in Smithsonian magazine in April 2017 about the broadcaster who called himself Der Chef, or the chief, who spread disinformation about Germany’s war efforts, including that corruption was enveloping Nazi headquarters while the war was being fought in Europe.

Today there will be more stories about that day. There no doubt will be some references to the fact that, although American troops currently are not fighting on a battlefield, this country is engaged in a war nonetheless against a formidable enemy, COVID-19, with formidable “reinforcements” in the form of virus variants.

Words from a famous Christmas song — that “there is no peace on earth” — again ring true.


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