If you have walked the beaches of any location in Hawaii, at any time of the year, you have likely experienced an incredible feeling of relaxation. Who can argue with an 80 degree sunshine packed day, with the sounds of waves crashing during a stroll on one of the hundreds of beaches in the great state of Hawaii?
You may have also had the distinct honor of visiting Pearl Harbor. Geographically, Pearl Harbor sits on the island of Oahu and is the current home of the United States Pacific Fleet. A visit to the historic site of Pearl Harbor to many, myself included, remains one of the most somber and emotional visits to any historical site across the globe. The Arizona Memorial, a platform built on top of the sunken USS Arizona, is a sight visible from several miles away. Your visit to the Memorial will likely be coupled with a visit through the World War II Memorial, combined with a short documentary showing actual footage from that fateful December day. Your boarding of a small Navy shuttle boat may be one of the most sobering parts of the visit. At your arrival on the Memorial, you will literally be on top of thousands of personnel who perished on that dark day in early December of 1941.
The day of December 7th of 1941 started like any other day for American Naval Forces in Hawaii. At 7:48 a.m. on that fateful morning, the Naval Base was surprise attacked by over 350 Imperial Japanese aircraft, which were launched in two distinct, yet very successful raids. Every one of the eight large U.S. Navy battleships were significantly damaged, and four of those ultimately sunk. The remaining caught fire and were ultimately unrepairable, serving no use.
This attack, which was declared by President Franklin Roosevelt, was deemed to be a war crime, completely catching Americans off guard. Absent on that morning were alarms or radio signals to provide any type of warning. The attack sent shockwaves across the mainland of America, as many watched the black and white photographs and grainy videos come across their television screens and even their nightly newspapers. The horrific images of Battleship Row would essentially be the start of World War II, as the United States would officially declare war the very next day.
A mere 90 minutes after the attack, 2,403 Americans were dead, and another 1,100 plus were wounded in action. A reminder, like many, that freedom is never free.
As Americans recover from Thanksgiving and focus on Holiday parties, shopping for presents, and prepare for what is expected to be a joyous season for many, we should once again pause to reflect. Just like Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and many other days, the day of December 7th should be a time to take a few minutes of your day to reflect and remember. A time to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free, those who serve on the frontlines across the globe today, and those who will soon raise their right hand to support and defend. To them, we owe it all.
By: Geoffrey Phillips
Mr. Phillips is an IT specialist and professional policy writer / content editor; a non-starving writer always in search of opportunities; a USAF veteran; and a devote Church Elder and family man. His passion is in the pen and the people; he absolutely loves to assist transitioning veterans, and finds himself at peace when he is doing some sort of writing.