Remembering Pearl Harbor Day

Pearl Harbor Day

Remembering Pearl Harbor Day and World War Two Sepia toned collage of Mustang planes, WWII tanks and soldiers graves.The attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, has been seared on the heart of Americans. We remember because we cannot forget.

Early in the morning, the sleepy stillness of a tropical paradise was rudely interrupted. “Tora! Tora! Tora! (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!)” Lieutenant Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, the lead bomber, commanded the other bombers at 7:53 in the morning, using the code-word for the Japanese Imperial Navy to begin their surprise attack over United States Army and Navy bases at Pearl Harbor.

Two minutes later, the U.S. Pacific Fleet was crippled. Ships lay at the bottom of the ocean. Planes were just smoking ruins. In two waves, from six different Japanese aircraft carriers, more than 300 planes attacked the American base with fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes. Four United States battleships were sunk and the other four were damaged. Other ships, subs, and planes were destroyed too. 4,000 Americans were killed or wounded.

Was the attack on Pearl Harbor a big surprise?

Well, it should not have been a surprise. Let me take you back in time.

A Power Shift

At the end of the 1800s, Japan was going through a huge shift. The shoguns were on their way out and the emperor’s power was increasing. Along with that, Japan was taking notice of what was going on over in Europe. After all, the Europeans were busy beavers in the Pacific with all kinds of colonies like French Indochina and Dutch Indonesia. Japan started thinking about colonizing sleepy little Korea.

When Prussia beat France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Japan saw Prussia as the one to imitate and became very militaristic. Even the emperor started dressing in military attire. In addition, Japan started moving in on Korea. China didn’t like it because China wanted to rule over Korea. They ended up going to war and Japan won in 1894! Her winnings were Port Arthur and Taiwan. She also got to kick China out of Korea. The Western world was not happy! They raised such a ruckus that Japan grudgingly gave Port Arthur back to China.

With China out of the way, Russia moved into Korea and started butting heads with Japan. This led to war and guess what? Japan won! Japan beat a European power! The world stood up and took notice! In 1910, Japan formally annexed Korea.

Making Deals

During World War I, Japan told England that she would fight Germany in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, but if she won the war, she would get Germany’s territories. Japan extended its territory by taking over Germany’s colonial possessions in China and Oceania.

In 1927, Japanese military leaders secretly drew up the Tanaka Memorial, a blueprint for armed conquest of the Far East. The plan was to drive the Westerners out of the Pacific and have “Eight Corners of the World under One Roof.” Japanese young men were taught from an early age how to engage in battle and taught that it was their duty to die if necessary to help Japan fulfill its divine destiny of conquest. Starting in 1931, each graduate of the Japanese naval academy had to answer this question: “How would you carry out an attack against Pearl Harbor?” and Japan invaded Manchuria.

Japan started creeping over the Great Wall to conquer the rest of the nation in the mid-1930s. Ruthlessly, the Japanese soldiers pillaged, plundered, raped, looted, and murdered 100s of 1000s of Chinese, remembered as the Ningling Massacre. Those who survived were enslaved. Westerners were thrown into concentration camps and many died in those camps.

In 1940, Japan signed a treaty with Hitler and Mussolini; the Pact of Steel. The United States was not happy with Japan’s behavior and economic sanctions and trade embargoes. “Hit ‘em where it hurts,” leaders rationalized. However, Japan dug their heels in, refusing to retreat or surrender. By the time Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, she was already occupying Manchuria, China, Korea, Vietnam, and Formosa (Taiwan).

Japan’s Overall Plan

Early in the morning on December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers headed to other destinations in the Pacific like the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Midway, Guam, Shanghai, Malaya, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand. Japan’s goal was to get Western nations out of Japan and occupy all of the Pacific as a mighty empire. At 8:10, the USS Arizona was bombed, sinking with more than 1,000 men trapped inside. The USS Utah was gone, too. The other 7 ships were badly damaged. Dry dock, airfields, planes were all damaged. It was almost impossible to take to the skies, to fight back. Though the battleships were destroyed, all of our Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carriers were away from base and praise God, storage depots, repair shops, shipyards, and submarine docks remained intact.

Did America lay down and take defeat and refuse to fight such a formidable foe? No way! As the United States President Franklin Roosevelt said:

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a day that 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 attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.”

He asked Congress to declare war and added: “With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounded determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us, God!”

So Help Us God

To war, the United States went- facing a formidable foe. But, that determination paid off and though the first months of fighting were discouraging, the tide turned with the Battle of Midway. On December 7, we remember the devastation of Pearl Harbor, but that wasn’t the end of the story. On September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies. World War II ended in victory!

Would you like to learn more about World War II and what Japan was like in the 20th Century? Check out the textbook, HIS Story of the 20th Century and to discover ways to teach 20th Century history the fun way with Teach 20th Century History the Fun Way. You can listen to my podcast: Life Lessons from 20th Century History: Pearl Harbor on December 2 at Finish Well Podcast.

Until Next Time,
Happy Homeschooling!
Warmly,
Meredith Curtis

Meredith Curtis, pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom of five amazing children, and grandmother to 3, loves Jesus, leads worship, homeschools, writes, mentors ladies, and sometimes even cooks dinner! She believes that all of life is a grand adventure with so much to learn and discover about Jesus. She is the author of Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, HIS Story of the 20th Century, Americana Newspaper Reporting, and God’s Girls Beauty Secrets, as well as Bible studies, unit studies, curriculum, and high school courses. Meredith wants to encourage Christian ladies and families to enjoy a joy-filled life filled with the Presence of God. Visit Meredith at Powerline Productions  jshomeschooling.com, meredithcurtis.com, at the Finish Well Podcast, and on Facebook. Find out how to get 50% off unit studies like the one mentioned for a limited time as part of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale at the webstore. 

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