Tomorrow marks a day that will forever be etched in the minds of Americans.
At precisely 7:48 a.m., on Dec. 7, 1941, the first of 353 Japanese warplanes–complete with fighters, bombers and torpedo bombers launched from six aircraft carriers–unleashed a sudden attack against American forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack ended with 2,402 Americans killed and 18 ships either sunk, damaged or run aground.
This deliberate act forced America from its previous stance of neutrality and plunged her into World War II.
The attack was formulated by Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who studied at Harvard University from 1919-1921 and traveled widely in the United States, thus becoming very familiar with American culture and resolve. He knew the only way Japan could win a war in the Pacific was by launching a surprising and devastating strike against an unsuspecting target and then inflicting mass damage and casualties in one pre-emptive battle.
Sometime later, Yamamoto found out that the official communication breaking off diplomatic relations with the United States from Japan was not delivered until several hours after the attack. After learning this, he said that he could not imagine anything infuriating the Americans more, and he told Japanese Prime Minister Konoe that he could possibly remain victorious in the Pacific for six months to a year, but after that he knew Japan was doomed to lose.
He was proven right, though, at a cost of 405,399 American casualties by the time the war ended in 1945.
Today, if you’re one of many who regularly fly an American flag, I encourage you to bring your flags to half-staff and take a moment to remember the brave Americans who fought in the world’s deadliest conflict to date. We also cannot forget the sacrifices made by loved ones left at home, as wives and mothers filled the war materiel production factories while children conducted iron and rubber drives in their own neighborhoods.
Food and gasoline supplies were rationed for the war effort. Indeed, the whole country mobilized for this conflict.
It is also worth noting the impact this generation had on our organization. We were born as a result of the needs of World War I veterans, but through the sacrifice of those who fought in World War II and their continued leadership and service to our organization we developed the foundation that welcomes home today’s heroes and serves all generations.
This is a special and somber day for those we refer to as “the greatest generation,” but let us not forget those men and women who are still in harm’s way overseas, conducting America’s business while their loved ones wait at home.
As we prepare for the holidays, they stand on duty to defend our liberty and the American Way of Life.
DAV will continue to fight for veterans of all eras to access their benefits earned through service and to empower them to lead their lives with respect and dignity. That is a fight we cannot afford to stop, and DAV never will.
Many blessings upon you and your loved ones on this special day of remembrance.