Pearl Harbor Day 78 years on
Important to remember: 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,143 were wounded in that early morning surprise attack. The war with Japan began that day. Four days later Hitler decalred war on the United States:
My father, who would have been 97 this year was on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise that morning which rolled into port the day after. He would choke up in his later years describing the scene:
Enterprise was at sea on the morning of 7 December 1941 and received a radio message from Pearl Harbor, reporting that the base was under attack. The next evening, Enterprise, screened by six of her Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters, pulled into Pearl Harbor for fuel and supplies. VADM Halsey ordered every able bodied man on board to help rearm and refuel Enterprise; the entire 24-hour process took only 7 hours.The aircraft were fired on by anti-aircraft defenses, and one pilot radioed in, reporting that his aircraft was an American aircraft. She sailed early the next morning to patrol against possible additional attacks in the Hawaiian Islands.
I grew up in the shadow of the war, as did all people born in the couple of decades that followed. Popular culture was saturated with it, our sense of ourselves as Americans was formed by it. Vietnam and Watergate changed that for many of us and we've been skeptics of all that ever since.
But as I look at it now I honestly can't imagine what it was like in the months and years that followed. That war truly was an existential threat, nothing theoretical about it. And in many ways we are still unraveling the consequences of it.