President Franklin Roosevelt called it the “Day That Will Live in Infamy” after the American military installation at Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese planes from aircraft carriers on Dec. 7, 1941.
Most of the battleships in the American navy were sunk or severely damaged at Pearl Harbor that day and over 3,000 people were killed. The Japanese also attacked American forces in several other locales in the Pacific and eventually took the Philippine Islands.
Most importantly, it got the United States into World War II, which was something welcomed by England and its Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The United States had begun to send military equipment to England on a lend lease program that had greatly increased military spending and got factories working to build the planes, tanks and other equipment.
President Roosevelt had long wanted the United States to aid England and the European nations which had fallen to Nazi Germany and Hitler’s mighty war machine. Holland, Belgium, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Norway, Austria, Hungary and Denmark had already fallen.
The plan of Hitler and the Nazis to kill off the Jewish race had already begun and Jews from captured countries were being sent to death camps. The Holocaust was underway.
Germany was bombing England constantly and probably was planning an invasion. They ran into troubles when they invaded Russia and had difficulty with the weather there, but there was danger that Germany would soon control all of Europe.
Many in the United States were opposed to getting into the European war and some even favored Hitler and Germany. Pearl Harbor changed that. In fact, Germany, as ally of Italy and Japan declared war on this country. It was just in time.
Japan had been a ruthless and murderous enemy as they invaded China, Korea and other Asian countries and the Bataan death march is a good indication of how they treated prisoners.
World War II was one we had to fight and Pearl Harbor the reason we did. If it had not happened when it did, Hitler may have conquered Europe and our future would have been much worse and it is scary to think what life would have been like then.
Actually, Pearl Harbor turned out to be good for Japan. After we won the war General Douglas MacArthur was in charge of our occupation and made many excellent reforms. Japan became a democracy and is a thriving industrial nation and an important ally. That was one war where the losing nations were treated well.
R. J. Conner, Winslow resident