Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Date That Will Live In Infamy

Today is Pearl Harbor day.

Dec. 7, 1941 - 69 years ago - pilots from a Japanese carrier force bombed Pearl Harbor. They killed 2,403 Americans, most of them service personnel, while destroying much of the American fleet and air forces stationed in Hawaii.
The next morning, an outraged United States declared war. That war ended less than four years later, and destroyed most of the Japanese empire and its military, and also brought on the advent of nuclear weaponry.

From Today In History:
At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941--a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind.
About a year after war was declared, my father joined the army in 1943 when he was 22. His mom was a widower and had wanted him to get exempted from service since he was the oldest of three siblings, but my dad wanted to serve his country. Dad enlisted and went to Camp Davis, NC, in January 1943. My mom was a war-bride. While my dad was home on a furlough, they married on May 23rd 1943. They spent their honeymoon in New York City taking in a Jimmy Dorsey/Cab Calloway show, and two days later dad returned to Frederick Army Air Field, OK. He was subsequently stationed in the South Pacific.

Corporal Leonard Theodore served in the army in the 205th and 102nd Anti Aircraft Artillery Automatic (AAA) Weapons Battalions and in Battalion Headquarters Supply from 1943 to 1946. He served in the Fiji Islands, Finehaven Hallandria, Phillipine Islands, Bougainviile and Cook Island. His unit supplied ammo, food and clothing (etc.) for troops attached to the Americal Division. His unit was also an anti-aircraft unit which supplied protection from enemy aircraft utilizing 50 caliber and 90 millimeter guns. My dad was the recipient of the Good Conduct Medal, the Victory Medal, and the Phillipine Liberation, American Theatre and Asiatic Pacific Ribbons. He received an honorable discharge on January 6, 1946 after serving for 3 years, with 27 months of that being stationed in the South Pacific.

My dad was one of the fortunate guys who came home to raise a family and serve his community. He was a boy scout leader and he volunteered in many civic organizations. My dad passed away in 1997, and I am proud to say he served his country honorably and bravely, and he was one of the most honest and decent men that I have known in my life. He was truly one of "The Greatest Generation".

Please take a moment today to remember those who fought for freedom and triumphed over the tyranny of their time.