Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Pearl Harbor: 72nd Anniversary of the attack and the focus of Saturday's Show.

   Prior to the Japanese attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, and the air bases at Hickam and Wheeler Fields, on December 7, 1941, there was strong sentiment against United States involvement in what would become called World War II. The Japanese attack muted much of the opposition in the United States. The following day, the United States Congress declared war on the Japanese Empire. Japan on September 27, 1940 had entered into the Tripartite Agreement with Germany and Italy, the terms of which required the other two signatories to join the third country should another nation declare war on it. Consequently, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

   Many people viewed the attack at Pearl Harbor as a shocking defeat for the United States. Over 2,400, United States military personnel were killed. The battleship Arizona was sunk. However, the Japanese had not hit the United States fuel depot, the United States submarine pens, or the shipbuilding facilities. Most crucially, none of the United States Navy's aircraft carriers was in Pearl Harbor. The failure of the attack to hit these targets came back to bite the Japanese six months later at the Battle of Midway.

   Also, the attack was not supposed to be a "surprise" by the Japanese. Personnel from the Japanese Embassy were half an hour late in their delivery of a communique in Washington, D.C., in which cessation of negotiations between the United States and Japan was announced. This glitch caused Admiral Yamamoto, who directed the Pearl Harbor attack, to feel as if the Japanese had been cast in a cowardly light---as if the Rape of Nanking and other actions of the Empire had not done so. 

   In 2002, when we visited Hawai'i, we went to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. I could just make it out from the plane as we had circled before landing a couple of days before. The Memorial is on the water in the harbor and one must reach it by boat. Prior to departure of boats for the Memorial, a film  of the attack is shown. A person, I believe from the United States Park Service but I could be wrong about that, admonishes people to show respect as the Memorial is considered a graveyard. I always had thought the Memorial was over the spot where the Arizona had gone down. I was unaware the white marble structure was over the wreck of the U.S.S. Arizona. One could see oil that still seeps from the tanks of the ship. The ship lay there, like a huge skeleton.

   Millions died in World War II, the start of which occurred over two years before United States entry. The Memorial lists those United States personnel killed in the attack. An old man was wheeled off the boat. He wore the black baseball cap of a U.S. military veteran. He was about the right age to have served in World War II. I did not go over and ask him about his service, or try to get close enough to read the name of the ship on the front of his cap. His head was bowed most of the time as he sat in front of the wall of names. The few times he looked up, I saw tears on his face.   

   Saturday's Show will be streamed "live" from Tom Wood Aviation at Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport, just east of Allisonville Road off 96th Street in Fishers. Tom Wood Aviation is housed in a hangar in which is kept a Grumman F8F Bearcat fighter. Paul King, a pilot and World War II aircraft enthusiast will be a guest panelist, as will be Indianapolis attorney and author Jeff Cox whose "Rising Sun, Falling Sky," a history of the disastrous Java Sea campaign of World War II also will join us.  

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