Friday, December 07, 2007

A Day that will live in Infamy

December 7th, 1941 started out like any other Sunday on the islands of Hawaii. Military men off duty awoke hung over from their night before. Those on duty got up with a laid back attitude. It was a sort of an off day. A good many senior officers were on shore leave. Those men left to man the ships and the base were thinking of drinking some coffee, going to chapel and getting in a fairly easy day of duty.

What they got at 7:55 AM was the ultimate wakeup call. The Japanese Navy attacked Wheeler Air Field and Pearl Harbor naval base with furiousness. The attack would leave thousands dead. Not until September 11th, 2001, would the United States face such a direct assault on its soil.

While it would be easy to go on about the heroes of that day, and there were some real heroes, I will talk about politics. (One hero that comes to mind is the one the now late Jim Cooley told me about. He saw a man who kept firing his machine gun at the planes as they came over Wheeler. The man fired until the water cooled machine gun, without water to cool it, burned the man’s arm.)

Those in the major media and in the Republican Party would have you believe that the Democrats going after President Bush and his team over September 11th are unprecedented in their criticism of a sitting Commander in Chief. They are wrong.

Politics has always been present. In the almost immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Republicans in Congress were hinting that President Roosevelt knew of the attack in advance and let it happen to get the United States into war. Indeed, there is now documented evidence that suggests that Roosevelt’s 1944 Republican opponent for the Presidency was set to make Roosevelt’s knowledge of the attack a campaign issue before being talked out of it by General George Marshall, who did not want the Japanese to know the United States knew their code.

There was a heated Congressional investigation in 1946 into the Pearl Harbor attack. The investigation broke down on strict party lines. The Republicans screamed to the high heavens. The Democrats defended the then late President Roosevelt.

Roosevelt now ranks among the people and professional historians as one of our greatest Presidents. But, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, his political opponents went after him full throttled. The debate continues today. Just search “Pearl Harbor Roosevelt” and you will get a slew of websites and blogs dedicated to the idea Roosevelt knew about the attack in advance and did nothing.

That is not much different than what President Bush faces today. Just switch the party labels and you get pretty much the same thing: blame being readily laid at the doorstep of the President of the United States of the opposite party.

Things are not nearly as strange politically as some would have you believe. Politics has always been a tough game.

Another thing that has not changed is the heroes in the midst of tragedy. Who knows what President knew what when. But, one thing is clear on December 7th, 1941, like September 11th, 2001, a lot of good people died serving their country and communities. It is for them, those brave people who died that day 66 years ago we should never forget Pearl Harbor.


  1. stop stealing lines from Earl Capps. Earl is better than you.

  2. anon 130 - i would not suggest that he was inspired by my blog posting, so much as we are both inspired by the meaning of what took place on December 7, 1941.

    we are both proud patriots who know our nation's history and recognize those moments which had profound effects upon our history, and that of mankind. on that day, we were both inspired to write on a related subject. that's all there is to it.

    give the guy a break, ok?