Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, December 8: Some Lessons from Pearl Harbor

Earlier today I neglected to write a post about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and now I am having regrets. As FleeceMe correctly pointed out, "World War II was the most important event during the 20th century, and the United States’ role in securing victory is unquestioned," yet the importance of December 7, 1941 was never mentioned to FleeceMe's children in school.

I am sure FleeceMe's children and their classmates are not the only ones who didn't hear about the cause of the U.S. entrance into World War II. In fact, today it is quite possible to make it through college without ever finding out who the combatants were and why they were fighting. I believe that, in large part, schools can no longer talk about wars because, to explain the causes and conduct of any given war, some group or other must be exposed as the bad guys. In this topsy-turvy age of multiculturalism, and according to the dictates of political correctness, only one country--the U.S.--can ever be identified as the bad guy.

Nevertheless, the facts reveal that, on December 7, 1941:
All together the Japanese sank or severely damaged 18 ships, including the 8 battleships, three light cruisers, and three destroyers. On the airfields the Japanese destroyed 161 American planes (Army 74, Navy 87) and seriously damaged 102 (Army 71, Navy 31).

The Navy and Marine Corps suffered a total of 2,896 casualties of which 2,117 were deaths (Navy 2,008, Marines 109) and 779 wounded (Navy 710, Marines 69). The Army (as of midnight, 10 December) lost 228 killed or died of wounds, 113 seriously wounded and 346 slightly wounded. In addition, at least 57 civilians were killed and nearly as many seriously injured.

The Japanese lost 29 planes over Oahu, one large submarine (on 10 December), and all five of the midget submarines. Their personnel losses (according to Japanese sources) were 55 airmen, nine crewmen on the midget submarines, and an unknown number on the large submarines. The Japanese carrier task force sailed away undetected and unscathed.
The next day, December 8, the Japanese attacked and invaded the Philippines. Over 30,000 people (on both sides of the war) died in the the Battle of the Philippines, which lasted more than a year, and Manila became the second most destroyed city of World War II, after Warsaw.

On a previous December day in 1937, the Japanese had already accomplished the Rape of Nanking in China, during which the Imperial Japanese Army murdered hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers (POWs) and gang raped more than 50,000 Chinese women, impaling infants on bayonets and photographing and filming the events. That's not to mention what the Japanese did to Korea, before it was divided into North and South Korea following the end of the War. Japan also had some "interesting" plans for the U.S. for December 24, 1941, Christmas Eve, but that's a story for another post.

Returning to the events of December 8, 1941:
. . . within less than an hour after a stirring, six-minute address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress voted, with only one member dissenting, that a state of war existed between the United States and Japan, and empowered the President to wage war with all the resources of the country.

Four days after Pearl Harbor, December 11, 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. Congress, this time without a dissenting vote, immediately recognized the existence of a state of war with Germany and Italy, and also rescinded an article of the Selective Service Act prohibiting the use of American armed forces beyond the Western Hemisphere.
It's up to Americans to keep each other and our children informed of our history. Our children (not to mention our Libs) desperately need to know why America has acted in ways that might seem incomprehensible to someone who has not yet accepted the existence of evil and faced the danger of threat, and--dare I say it?--come to the understanding that all cultures are not now, and never have been, in possession of "the same" values.

As the Roman Cicero pointed out half a century before the birth of Christ:
Not to know what has been transacted in former times is
 to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the
 world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.



  1. Thank you so much for the link, and excellent historical recount in your post.

    I am happy to say the Japanese are one of our best allies these days, but we can not gloss over the culture and imperialism that allowed them to commit such atrocities. If some Japanese child in an American school feels a little guilt over his country's past, I truly don't feel that is a bad thing - if libs truly want peace among man, they need to teach our kids what man has done, so that they will want to make the world a better place. If we hide it from them, they learn nothing.

  2. It's up to Americans to keep each other and our children informed of our history..you got that right my friend!

  3. Great post Rightly. History is lost in the PC world, so we must do our best to keep it alive as you have done here.

  4. @fleeceme: Yes, the Japanese really went off the deep end during the late 19th century and early-to-mid 20th century. Despite the tremendous injuries done to America in WWII, our fathers did an exceptional job of making and keeping the peace with America's enemies during that War without rancor, for which they should be credited.

    @woman: The Rape of Nanking got very little coverage in the U.S. press, and most of the Americans who did hear reports of it thought that they were untrue or greatly exaggerated. Americans by and large didn't believe that the Japanese would do such a thing. Sound familiar?

  5. @Odie: Libs so often underrate the people who have gone before, as though people in the past were idiots and the cumulative experience of ages counts for nothing.

  6. Excellent post, QR. Adding a link from mine since I didn't have time to reflect on history, just a vet.