Pearl Harbor essay: A day of valor, infamy

A date which will live in infamy

Pearl Harbor. Not one of our best days, unlike D-Day. Many people died that day. Too many. From what I've read, heard and seen, the number of wounded is usually more than the death toll, sometimes twice as many. But in Pearl Harbor, the number of wounded is equal to only three-fourths of the number of men, mostly young, who lost their lives much too early. Truly, "A date which will live in infamy," which is what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his speech after the attack. My essay is about the catastrophic destruction, humiliation, sorrow, anger, and perhaps even embarrassment caused by the ghastly events at Pearl Harbor on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, when most islanders were eating breakfast.

At 0755, Dec. 7, 1941, on the Sabbath, the Japanese start attacking six airfields with dive bombers: Kaneohe, Ford Island, Hickam, Bellows, Wheeler and Ewa. Torpedo planes began dropping torpedoes on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor. Up and down Battleship Row, battleships start getting hit by newly modified torpedoes purposely intended to be used in the Harbor's shallow water. Explosions shook the light cruiser Helena on her starboard crippling her and the neighbor minelayer Oglala. Target ship Utah is struck by torpedoes and starts to roll over like the battleship Oklahoma while the light cruiser Raleigh, moored ahead of the Utah takes action to prevent capsizing. The Nevada, the only battleship to get underway before being hit by bombs starts firing on the Japanese attackers. The Japanese got a lucky shot in on the battleship Arizona, when an armor piercing delayed fuse bomb struck the fore magazine, turning her into a fiery fireball. She sinks within nine minutes. The concussion of the explosion blasts men off the repair ship Vestal. Ninety-two Navy and 96 Army planes were destroyed, most by bombs, and 31 Navy and 128 Army planes were damaged. The few U.S. fighters who struggled into the air made themselves known, and with combined firepower from the ships and AA guns on the ground below. Two thousand eight, 1,177 of which were on the Arizona, Navy boys lost their lives in that two-hour attack. The death totaled 2,403 for the entire island. One thousand one hundred seventy eight were injured. Seven ships were sunk, one beached, and 11 were damaged. Out of 31 ships and two waves of aircraft totaling 353, the Japanese lost nine fighters, 15 dive bombers and five torpedo bombers, as well as five midget subs with one or two men in each and one large sub with an uncounted number of casualties. They lost 64 men.

The Japanese were pressed for natural resources before the war even started. When we put an end to oil shipping for the Japanese, they wanted us to lift the embargo and allow them to take over China. We said no. Pearl Harbor was important because it was in between the Japanese naval bases in the Marshall Islands and the U.S. and if it was taken by the Japanese, we would have been open to an invasion from Japan. It also kept Japan from making any threats to the U.S. or Hawaii. It was located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu a few miles northwest of Honolulu. It was attacked because if the Japanese destroyed enough of the American fleet, they would be free to take over the Pacific with no resistance from the crippled American fleet.

Pearl Harbor affected the war in that it got us involved in the war, which allowed Europe to concentrate its forces on certain area that were under attack from the Nazis when we gave them battle support. We became the largest world power. At home, the draft called for men aged 21 to 30 to mandatory service in the Armed Forces. The women had to go to work in the industrial world to support their boys out on the front lines. We sent many Japanese, Italians and Germans that were residing in the U.S. at that time to internment camps.

I believe that we are already taking many good precautions to prevent another Pearl Harbor. We don't allow Japan to keep a large army. We have satellites that can take a picture of time from a watch from space. We have sonar and radar, night-vision, infrared, heat-seekers and many other detective devices. Another way is that we are keeping tabs and good relations with those countries.

There were many casualties at Pearl Harbor. We were right, I believe, to have negotiated with Japan in the way that we did. The only good thing about Pearl Harbor was that now Europe had a strongly supportive, powerful ally in their war with the Nazis and Fascists. As I have already stated, too many good people died that day, civilian and soldier alike. But they all died in service to their country, and in valor.


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