Monday, December 7, 2009
68 Years Ago Today
The Japanese surprise attack on our armed forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was 68 years ago today. The photograph above was captured on a Japanese ship during World War II and shows the Japanese bombers being hailed and cheered as they prepared for take-off.
We all know how we got into the war, but a lot of the details about how it ended are not as widely known. As the Allied forces got closer and closer to the islands of Japan, casualties were increasing and resistance was growing at places like Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Yokahama. Admiral Inishi announced Japan was willing to lose 20 million lives and Emporer Hirohito said Japan would "choose extinction rather than surrender." The Allies were planning an invasion of the South Island of Japan with 767,00 men, 4 times the size of the D-Day force at Normandy. Allied commanders knew the casualties would be intolerable. It was then the decision was made to use the atom bomb. Already, conventional bombs had destroyed 40% of Tokyo, 55% of Kobe, 35% of Osaka and 57% of Yokahama, and still there was no surrender.
Five days prior to the dropping of the atom bomb, the Allies dropped 1 million leaflets on 35 Japanese cities, warning the residents of the devastation to come and urging them to flee. When the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, there was no surrender. Three days later, on Aug. 9, 1945, the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, and there was still no surrender. When Emperor Hirohito finally made the surrender decision, his military leaders were so adamant against it, they attempted to assassinate him on his way to the radio station where he was to make the announcement to the Japanese people.
And so ended one of the darkest times of the 20th century, that began on this day, 68 years ago, what Franklin Delano Roosevelt called "a day that will live in infamy."
The photograph below shows the USS West Virginia in Pearl Harbor, burning as the sky blackened with smoke from the widespread destruction of our Navy's Pacific Fleet.