A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

“…December 7th, 1941. A date which will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by air and naval forces of the empire of Japan.”

These were the opening words of a speech by President Franklin Roosevelt when he appeared before Congress the day after the attack asking them to declare war on Japan.  This year, like all the years that have past we will solemnize the Pearl Harbor attack and remember the heroes of that day along with the fallen, some 2,403 dead.  Among them, 2,008 Sailors, 218 Soldiers, 109 Marines and 68 civilians.  Fully half the Sailors killed were lost on the USS Arizona which became a monument for all those lost in that battle.

Every year since the number of Pearl Harbor battle participants has grown smaller and smaller.  There may be fewer than 75 still alive scattered all over the country in towns both big and small.  They are what remains of some 16 million Americans who served in WWII in the largest and most powerful military the world had ever seen, fighting in the most devastating war in human history.

Today we will also read, hear and see stories about what happened on that day,  some of it will be very good and some of it will be plain awful, riddled with inaccuracies, rumors, and conspiracy theories. I like to offer my take on just a few of them.

Most prominent is the notion that we had advanced notice that Japan was going to attack and that President Roosevelt allowed it to happen so that we would enter the war on the side of the Allies. As proof, they offer disparate memos, statements, and other bits of information pretending that all this was known to Roosevelt and his staff prior to the attack.

What was not in their hands was the date of the attack, where the attack would be, and what forces that attack would employ.  At a minimum, we would have needed those important details to even know how to respond. A Japanese military radio intercept inquiring about ship movements around Honolulu wouldn’t have been enough to sortie the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet out of Pearl Harbor to go attack Japan first in international waters. Even if they knew where to find them.


Were We Trying To Get Into WWII?

Did the United States want to enter into the war in Europe on the side of Brittain?