Monday, June 18 , 2018, 11:05 am | Fair 65º

 
 
 

Harris Sherline: In Remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day

That fateful day — Dec. 7, 1941 — and its significance remain ever present

Does Pearl Harbor Day have any special meaning to you? For those who are old enough to have been around at the time, do you remember where you were when the news was broadcast that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese?

Most of the American population is too young to have been around at the time, in 1941. I was 13, and I remember it quite clearly. I was in my bedroom listening to the radio as I was getting ready for school when the news was broadcast. It was about 7 a.m. (California time), and I still remember hearing the news and wondering just what it meant.

Following is the announcement made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt the day after the attack:

“Dec. 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. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or 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 as 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 Japanese forces 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. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. ...” — Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Japan gave no formal warning, and Roosevelt was taken by surprise because negotiations were going on with the Japanese at the time, which led him to make the statement for which he subsequently became known, in which he proclaimed Dec. 7, 1941, as “a date which will live in infamy.”

Like so many important events of the past, they become relegated to the history books and the classroom, where their significance has become diminished with the passage of time.

However, at least for me, Pearl Harbor Day is still living history and a vivid memory.

— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who as lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog, Opinionfest.com.

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