Friday, December 07, 2007

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

"December 7th, 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. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 8, 1941

While Japanese diplomats were blandly talking to the Secretary of State in Washington, Japan launched a sudden and treacherous attack on American military bases in the Philippines and Hawaii. The nation was just beginning, that winter, to marshal its resources against possible danger, meanwhile lending half an ear to a loud minority of isolationists proclaiming that no danger existed. But in the dawn of Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the Japanese bomber and torpedo planes caught the army and navy "off the alert," wreaking such damage that for months full details of the catastrophe were withheld. In one savage moment the United States had been jolted into the conflict. Japan declared war on the United States on December 7; the next day President Roosevelt read a war message to Congress: "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." On December 11 Germany and Italy joined their Axis partner by declaring war against the United States. Roosevelt said, "The long known and the long expected has thus taken place. The forces endeavoring to enslave the entire world are now moving toward this hemisphere." The Japanese surrender was hastened by the atomic bomb, and the Japanese surrendered officially on September 3, 1945. The ceremony was held aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, bringing an end to Japan's dream of world domination. Executive power was vested in General MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. Under his guidance, the Japanese took their first steps on the path to democratic government, despite the cries of some that imposing democracy on such a barbaric nation was a waste of America's time and resources.

The lessons of history are clear.

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