In Remembrance Of Pearl Harbor Day

“The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress. “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date that will live in infamy,” he began, and concluded by asking Congress to declare war on Japan. Congress did, with but a single disssenting vote.

…The war lords of Japan might have been surprised to witness the reaction ot Pearl Harbor among the effete, luxury-loving Americans. True, there was some fleeting panic and hysteria among a few jittery residents of the West Coast, and there were faint hearts as far east as St. Louis who expected momentarily to see Japanese battleships sailing up the Mississippi River. But on the whole, the American people were outraged as never before. Many Congressmen, led by Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, volunteered for active duty, asking only for a day’s respite to cast their votes for war, while across the land recruiting stations were overwhelmed by a flood of patriotic young men ready to enlist….Their country had been treacherously attacked, and they were angry. They spoke of the Japanese in terms that were neither complimentary or printable.

…Never before had Americans been so united. Isolationists and interventionists alike burned with anger at Japan’s treacherous sneak punch…In truth, Japan could have done nothing worse. With one blow it had aroused and united a nation that had been dedicated to passivity and torn by dissension.

…For Japan, retribution was to be complete. The nation had arrayed against it an immensely superior coalition of powers. It had foolishly believed that the United States would allow it to fight a limited war. It had misjudged the American character, and for the sake of an initial advantage had given that character greater strength and purpose. “One can search military history in vain,” wrote the naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison, “for an operation more fatal to the aggressor.” — Robert Leckie’s Delivered from Evil: The Saga of World War II.”

*** Update #1 ***: The front page of two newspapers from Dec 7 & Dec 8, 1941.

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