Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Date That Should Live in Our Memory

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Date That Should Live in Our Memory

Article excerpt

Say Dec. 7 and every American knows what you're talking about.

The basic elements of the Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor are well known.

What is less appreciated is that through coincidence none of the U.S. aircraft carriers were present.

And those carriers were involved in the massive victory of Midway about six months later.

Though readers expect to see recognition of this history every year, it's difficult coming up with new angles.

However, a new book has come to the rescue.

In "On This Date," Carl Cannon provides short stories about American history for every day of the year. He devotes three days - Dec. 6, 7 and 8 - to Pearl Harbor.

For Dec. 6, he noted the lucky circumstance that the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier was due back in port but was delayed by bad weather.

There were plenty of warnings about a Japanese attack. And there had been regular war games by the Navy regarding repelling an attack.

Admiral Husband Kimmell spent the Saturday, Dec. 6 wondering if he should order the fleet at Pearl Harbor to disperse.

In Washington, President Franklin Roosevelt learned of an intercepted message from Tokyo to the Japanese embassy that referred to "Final Communication to the United States."

A "REBIRTH OF REASON"

It was more than two years at this point since World War II had been raging in Europe, yet isolationist sentiments remained strong in the U.S.

Congress had enacted the first peacetime draft in 1940 but when Roosevelt asked for an extension of duty for draftees, the bill passed by just one vote in the House a few months before Pearl Harbor, 203-202.

Though the surprise attack was successful - and the USS Arizona sank - many of the ships were able to be restored.

Should the Japanese have attacked on a third wave?

In his book, Cannon tells a typically American story.

The Japanese had sent five minisubmarines into the harbor. All five were destroyed and nine of the 10 Japanese crewmen were killed. Kazuo Sakamaki survived, then tried to commit suicide in shame. …

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