It was Sunday morning on the beautiful island of O'ahu. Hawaii was not yet a state in our union, as it was 1941, but the United States had a naval base in Pearl Harbor, home of our Pacific Fleet. What was a beautiful morning soon turned deadly as 177 Japanese planes appeared from the sky and attacked the naval base. Simultaneously, the State Department and US intelligence received delayed word that peace negotiations had ended between Japan and the United States. Japanese headlines soon read: "War with the United States."
Four US battleships were destroyed, although only Arizona and Oklahoma were lost in action. (California and West Virginia were able to be reconstructed, only because the harbor isn't deep enough for those vessels to have sunk.) Light to moderate damage was done to four others which remained afloat. Also damaged were three cruisers, three destroyers and a minelayer, not to mention 188 aircraft destroyed and 155 damaged (lined up all pretty in easily-bombed rows).
History would prove this to be a foreign policy EPIC FAIL on the part of the Japanese: a preventive strike to destroy the US Pacific fleet and insure Japanese expansion into Malaya and the Dutch East Indies (rich in oil, which was needed after we initiated an oil embargo). Pearl Harbor was a clear strategic failure for the Japanese. They had hoped to destroy the US Pacific fleet, however, six battleships survived, as did the majority of the facilities at the naval base. What was destroyed was predominantly obsolete. Repairs were efficiently made, and the force rebuilt. Further, the attack taught the US a lesson in naval advancement, and instead of battleships, began to rely upon aircraft carriers. The aircraft carriers had not been in port during the attack, which was most fortunate for the US naval fleet.
However, 2,402 US servicemen and civilians were killed and 1,282 wounded. Franklin Delano Roosevelt described December 7, 1941 as "a date which will live in infamy." It marked US entrance into the Second World War, an event which resulted in the deaths of 72 million people worldwide. A war directly caused by the foreign policy failures originating from the previous world war. Sometimes we just fail to learn the lessons of history, and keep repeating the same arrogant foreign policy mistakes.
Of course, on a happier note, for us December 7 is also a notable date: Cora's birthday. As a history geek, it does amuse me that this is her birthday. She will be getting battleship birthday cakes for years to come.
So, happy birthday to Cora! We've had her for an entire year. It's been a great time overall, (even considering all the drama she causes).