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Sunday, December 7, 2008

December 7, 1941: The First Infamous Date

The Attack on Pearl Harbor:
The attack on Pearl Harbor (or Hawaii Operation, as it was called by the Imperial General Headquarters) was a surprise military strike conducted by the Japanese navy against the United States' naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the morning of Sunday December 7, 1941, later resulting in the United States becoming militarily involved in World War II. It was intended as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from influencing the war Japan was planning to wage in Southeast Asia against Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States. The attack consisted of two aerial attack waves totaling 353 aircraft, launched from six Japanese aircraft carriers.
The President Addresses Congress:
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
The Declaration of War:

The joint resolution (S. J. Res. 116) declaring that a state of war exists between the Imperial Government of Japan and the Government and the people of the United States, and making provision to prosecute the same, was read the first time by its title, and the second time at length, as follows:

Whereas the Imperial Government of Japan has committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United states of America:

Therefore be it Resolved, etc., That the state of war between the United states and the Imperial Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United states.

The Lone Dissenter:
In 1940, Rankin was again elected to Congress, this time on an anti-war platform. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, she once again voted against entering a World War, the only member of Congress to do so, saying "As a woman, I can't go to war and I refuse to send anyone else. It is not necessary. I vote NO." However she did not vote against declaring war on Germany and Italy following their declaration of war on the U.S. Instead, she voted merely Present. ("Present" Sound familiar? - QC)
A personal account told to me by my grandmother:
She was dining with some friends after church and the news came on the radio. She said she remembered stunned silence in the restaurant, then tears and anger and talk about war. Then she realized for a second time she'd have to see men she knew going to fight, just like in her childhood when the United States entered the First World War. She remembers all the neighbors getting together - like they used to do back in those days - to listen to the news that day and then on December 8th to hear the President ask Congress to declare war.
To the Memory of the Gallant Men Here Entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1941, on the U.S.S. Arizona.

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