By Simon Ambit
While some were enjoying breakfast and others were encountering a shift change, there were those of you who were erratically awakened by the deafening sounds of explosion and gunfire! Three quarters of a century ago this week, the Battle of Pearl Harbor took place, on Dec. 7, 1941.
With no declaration of war and no time to prepare, the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor was surprisingly attacked just before 8 a.m. For the next 90 minutes the area was shelled and bombed by the attacking forces of the Japanese. The results of the attack took the lives of over 2,400 Americans and wounded nearly 1,200 more. 188 aircraft were destroyed and 18 ships were either sunk or beached!
What began as a hopeful tactic by the Japanese to prevent the United States from engaging in plans of further attacks, resulted in the United States jumping into the war full-fledged the following day. What I would like to focus on, however, is the fact that although the destruction at Pearl Harbor was immense and the devastation saddening, the United States literally stood from the ashes and rose from the watery depths.
Of the 18 ships which received damage from the attack, 15 were repaired and returned to service. Many returned to service within a year and all 15 by the end of the war. This included the battleship West Virginia, which was hit by two bombs and seven torpedoes and the battleship California, which received two bombs and two torpedoes. Both these ships sunk and came to rest at the bottom of the harbor, yet were recovered from the tidal depths, repaired and went on to fight again before the end of the war!
This week, as we remember and pay honored respects to those veterans who were injured or taken in the battle of Pearl Harbor, may we also find strength in knowing that amid devastation and destruction, we, the United States of America recovered and regrouped and came back to fight once again.
There are going to be times in our lives when everything seems to be under attack and all of our resources seem to be falling down around us. As did our honored armed forces 75 years ago, may we each find the strength inside ourselves to rise from the depths of our personal trials to the surface of courage and willpower and return to fight whatever battles come into our lives.
I end with the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, taken from his speech the day following the Battle of Pearl Harbor.
“With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.”