BY: Chris McDaniel @senatormcdaniel
In December of 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt made his famous speech to Congress, requesting a declaration of war against Japan.
One of the defining moments in history, it was seventy-one years ago this week when Pearl Harbor was ruthlessly bombarded by the Imperial Japanese.
Such aggression came as a surprise to the American Army and Navy, resulting in 2,403 American dead, 188 destroyed planes and a crippled United States Pacific Fleet. More than 1000 servicemen were injured, eight battleships were damaged, with five sunk in the lagoon. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels were also lost in the battle.
Japanese leaders had hoped that a successful offensive would prevent the United States from increasing its influence in the Pacific, but they underestimated American courage, spirit and resolve.
The day after, our nation declared war on Japan, entering World War II. Germany, along with other members of the Tripartite Pact, then foolishly responded by declaring war on the United States.
The loss of American life came as a shock to the people, and anger filled patriots’ hearts. Domestic support for neutrality, which had been widespread, quickly dissolved with Germany’s declaration of war, and our republic entered into an active military alliance in the European Theater.
Though the assault on Pearl Harbor was a tactical victory for the Japanese, it derived an unintended consequence – by destroying much of the Pacific Fleet, they had also destroyed American division over the war. It unified our resolve and became a “day of infamy” that abruptly brought the United States into war as a full combatant.
Heeding the call of those brave souls who suffered and died in the “Water of Pearl,” millions joined their friends and neighbors in marching off to war. Brothers, sons and fathers were called upon to fight against an imperialist empire across a great expanse of unfriendly waters known as the South Pacific. They likewise sailed to Europe to confront Nazi atrocities.
With God as their ally in that great cause of freedom, they chose to fight against tyranny in a massive undertaking unparalleled in history.
The United States military deployed quickly to Europe, beginning with the strategic bombing of Nazi Germany and leading up to the invasions of occupied North Africa in 1942, Sicily and Italy in 1943, France in 1944, and the invasion of Germany in 1945.
Hundreds of miles away, the Pacific witnessed the largest naval conflict in history. From Wake Island to Midway, from Iwo Jima to the Battle of Okinawa, the two most powerful navies in the world struggled for superiority.
Less than four years after American intervention, on April 30, 1945, Hitler put a pistol to his head, pulled the trigger and effectively ended his evil Third Reich.
Japan’s surrender came soon thereafter. Just 44 months after the first bomb dropped at Pearl Harbor, the so-called empire had been destroyed.
But our nation’s wartime success was not without a high cost. Approximately 16 million Americans served in World War II, and more than 400,000 were killed.
With so costly a sacrifice placed upon the the alter of freedom, the conflict ended in victory. Liberating champions returned home to waiting families and a thankful nation.
Sixty-seven winters have passed since their return.
With World War II veterans dying daily, each year there are fewer of them to bear witness to the day Pearl Harbor changed them from children of the Depression to the Greatest Generation.
This week, as we remember Pearl Harbor Day, let us not mourn for those who have died or grieve those who are aging, but rather let us be glad that such outstanding people have lived.
And in so doing, may we recall a remarkable generation of men and women, reminding ourselves to never forget that their sacrifice was the seed of liberty’s tree.
To you heroes, both living and dead, humanity owes you eternal gratitude.
About Chris: Chris is an attorney, conservative commentator and a Republican politician in the Mississippi Senate who has represented the 42nd District, which encompasses part of South Mississippi, since 2008. He resides with his family in Ellisville, Mississippi.