Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Is this still "the Date Which Will Live in Infamy?"

It should be of course.  

It should be remembered forever.  

But the truth is: it was eighty years ago today.  Eighty years is a long time.  In ten years probably no one who was alive for it will still be here.

What was the Date Which Will Live in Infamy?  On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked the US Naval Base in Honolulu, Hawaii.  They destroyed or damaged nearly 20 naval vessels (including eight battleships) and over 300 planes.  More than 2400 Americans died (including civilians) and another 1000 were wounded.  

The next day President Roosevelt declared war on Japan.  He spoke to the joint session of Congress and said, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy...”

Roosevelt’s speech helped unify the country.  Today, half the country would say the Japanese attack was a hoax.  We were not stupid back then. 

When huge events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor occur, we assume their impact and memory will live forever.  It’s hard to believe that such a monumental event could someday become merely a historical footnote.   But I’m sure they said that about the Battle of New Orleans.  

If you go to Hawaii, take an afternoon and go to the Pearl Harbor memorial.  Let’s not let our reminder of the Date that Will Live in Infamy be the awful Michael Bay, PEARL HARBOR movie. 


M. Shayler said...

I had heard that Orson Wells was doing a live radio program that day when the bulletin of the attack came over the air. While people were "not stupid" back then, there were some who, for a while, thought Wells was pulling another "War Of The Worlds" stunt like he did on CBS three years earlier. Has anyone else heard this story?

Darwin's Ghost said...

"Today, half the country would say the Japanese attack was a hoax"

Now that we live in a world in which Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene has said more people die of cancer than Covid but that no school has ever been closed because of it, thereby letting it be known she thinks cancer is contagious, today half the country would say the entire country of Japan is a hoax created by liberals using virtual reality to take away their assault rifles and hamburgers.

You see, the problem with satire now is that nothing anyone can make up will be as batshit as what Republicans actually believe. By this time next week, some MAGAT will have said something that makes my Japan virtual reality joke seem quaint.

Mike Barer said...

Yes, been there, one vessell was and I presume, is still leaking oil. It is a very solemn tour, and indeed, very moviing.

N. Zakharenko said...

To those people who were alive at that time -

"of course"

But to those American and Japanese people born after 1945, so had nothing to do with it - no.

It is not an event like Auschwitz - or even Hiroshima - where man reached new lows to fulfill a desire, so should be remembered, in the hope that it will never happen again.

It was the start of a war between 2 countries - period.

Same as an Archduke Duke getting shot in Sarajevo -
Same as the battle of Lexington
Same as the beginning of the 100 years war ...

If you are going to mourn over the anniversary of every first battle of every war in history, you will live in a perpetual state of misery.

VincentS said...

Fine words, Ken. And it's story tellers like you and me that keep history alive. Alexander Hamilton is no longer just the guy on the ten dollar bill thanks to Lin Manuel Miranda.

kent said...

Only the soap opera aspects of the movie were awful. The attack itself was well done and the presentation of the Doolittle Raid at the end of the movie is the only accurate version of that raid ever filmed. It is far more accurate than the heralded "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" starring the great Spencer Tracy.
Beyond that, your feelings are well taken, this date should be remembered with reverence.

Jeff Boice said...

The 50th anniversary appears to be the one when society gathers up the memories, puts them in a box, ties a ribbon around the box and places it in the attic. That was the case for Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and also the JFK assassination.

It is startling to read that only 1.5% of WWII vets are alive today. I know it's been 76 years, but still-I must be getting old.

jenmoon said...

Same will probably happen for 9/11 with time.

scottmc said...

The 'Tuttle' episode from the first season of MASH was on recently. It is one of my favorites. This time I noticed that the episode was co-written by David Ketchum. As an actor, he played 'Agent 13' on GET SMART. Looking at his credits he's had a wonderful and varied career as an actor and writer. If you can reach him he might make a great guest on your podcast.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

One measure on how much time has passed: President Biden, the oldest person to serve in that capacity, and was born nearly a year after the attack at Pearl Harbor.

iamr4man said...

I’ve been rewatching The World At War, the BBC documentary from the early 70’s. It’s really interesting and give a British leaning perspective on the war. Episode 6 covers Japan and Pearl Harbor. It’s available on Dailymotion. One thing that got to me was the interviews with the guys who were there. They were wearing their service hats and decorations. When I saw the show in the 70’s I thought of them as old guys reminiscing about their experiences. Seeing it today they all look young to me and of course they were just in their late 40’s or early 50’s.
In the episode regarding Germany’s invasion of France the talk about the ancient French generals and their WW 1 tactics. Then they said the ages of these ancient men, they were in their late 60’s early 70’s.

Buttermilk Sky said...

It's worth remembering that FDR asked Congress for a declaration of war against Japan only. Three days later Hitler declared war on the United States. There was still a lot of support in this country for his war on Bolshevism and certain politicians didn't see why we should get involved. (Certain famous aviators, too.) People who saw the threat before December 11 would soon be branded "prematurely anti-fascist." I feel like we are slipping back into that darkness.

Dan Sachs said...

The Pearl Harbor advance-knowledge conspiracy theory is the argument that U.S. Government officials had advance knowledge of Japan's December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Ever since the Japanese attack, there has been debate as to how and why the United States had been caught off guard, and how much and when American officials knew of Japanese plans for an attack. In September 1944, John T. Flynn, a co-founder of the non-interventionist America First Committee, launched a Pearl Harbor counter-narrative when he published a 46-page booklet entitled The Truth about Pearl Harbor.


plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Liggie said...

Oh, I think people would believe a modern-day Pearl Harbor was real, like they believe 9-11 was real (the issue with COVID is that nobody can "see" a virus). Unfortunately, isolationist conspiracy theorists who would say that was a ruse to get us into a war. It's similar to how some people think 9-11 was an "inside job" to get us to attack the Middle East.

Mitch said...

You mention that the country was unified, but there were still people that were against it. But that information didn't get around. Same as today there are people against things (shots, masks, snow tires, etc), and they show up on the news, or in the paper, on in unwanted facebook posts.
Now it is "news", but then it was wackos who didn't deserve mention. They didn't have to prove they were not robots
Times change

Jahn Ghalt said...

Today, half the country would say the Japanese attack was a hoax. We were not stupid back then.

"Stupid" is loud these days - amplified by social-media - but "old school stupid" may have been more dangerous.

I was disabused, at an early age, of the supposed respectability of "intellectuals" who thought the Soviets were conducting a "grand experiment" (it may be apocryphal that Lenin called them "useful idiots"). Also about UN "leadership" who had Yasser Arafat at the General Assembly podium "(holding an olive branch in one hand and a pistol in the other)".

(too bad that he wiped his ass with his 1994 Nobel - following through "Olso Accords" along with Peres and Rabin may have done a lot of good)

It’s hard to believe that such a monumental event (as Pearl Harbor) could someday become merely a historical footnote.

History is not a youthful strong suit. I've read 20 and 30-somethings "review" Animal Farm and 1984 without actually understanding that Orwell took aim at the Bolsheviks in the former and totalitarianism in the latter.

RichRocker said...

Just to put in perspective how long 80 years ago would be, 80 years prior to 1941 would be 1861 and the first year of the American Civil War. Wow.

Btw, since we are naming movies, I think Roland Emmerich's "Midway" has a good segment on the Pearl Harbor attack. And "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (1970) does a good job documenting that many people in the U.S. government and military knew about the upcoming attack but they could not breakthrough the bureaucracy or complacency of their higher ups to get the warning through.

Darwin's Ghost said...

Interesting bit from The Hollywood Reporter review of Being the Ricardos:

"But from the walk-and-talks to the smug swipes at almost everyone in positions of power and influence to the patronizing reminders of mid-century gender inequality, the hand of the writer-director seldom goes unnoticed. The smartest person in any room on an Aaron Sorkin film is invariably Aaron Sorkin, and he can’t get out of his own way here."

Is anyone honestly surprised?

Elf said...

Remember the good old days when the biggest threat to the nation came from overseas, not from whackjobs seduced by a bloated, racist, misogynistic, narcissist?

Anonymous said...

As much as I really don't want to go here, it was not "the Japanese" that attacked Pearl Harbor on that date, it was specifically the military of Imperial Japan. I don't say this to be woke or PC, but the first U.S. response was internment camps for Japanese-Americans, most of whom were American citizens, and needless to say, had nothing to do with the attack but nonetheless stripped of their rights and property.

If we want to commemorate something today, perhaps it should be an effort to work toward world peace and an end to racism as a divisive force.

Fred said...

* Let’s imagine an alt 1940s:
• In 1940, FDR secretly solicits, receives, lies about — but then publicly requests — campaign aid from Hitler — including fraudulent oppo and stolen Willkie correspondence
• On 12/8/41, FDR declares war on Korea, and cancels all air traffic but for outgoing flights carrying Japanese wealthy
• In 1948, HST covertly halts aid to West German allies ... unless they provide fraudulent campaign oppo on Dewey

Excuse our flights of fancy...obviously, any 21st Century politician following the above scenarios would’ve been tried for, and convicted of, treason, if only for dishonoring our WWII vets

* Speaking — earlier in the thread — of the Lone Eagle, one of the oddest biopics for Billy Wilder to have made was The Spirit of St Louis, especially because:
• Lucky Lindy had an avid “pro-German” public stance, to the point of being a Nazi propagandist — a stance which secretly continued post-War, when the married pilot fathered children with three different Fräuleins.
• Wilder’s mother, grandmother, and step-father were killed in the Holocaust. That The Spirit of St Louis was a boring stinker seems an inadequate revenge

Andrew said...

I share your sentiments about Pearl Harbor, and I have been to the memorial over the Arizona.

However, don't forget that many innocent Japanese-Americans lost their freedoms for several years. I have a friend whose grandparents were sent to a camp. They lost everything.

FDR and Earl Warren imposed the creation of the internment camps, and the Supreme Court upheld it. America was a better country then, but it certainly was not perfect.

Tom said...

People back then tended to believe what their leaders told them, but that all went away due to Vietnam and Watergate, never to return.

Mark said...

My cousin's son was planning his wedding, and the only Saturday available this year was Sept 11. No one wanted to have their wedding that day because they were afraid it would look disrespectful. I said, It's been 20 YEARS. People probably felt that way for years after Dec 7. He should take that date, and in 10 years no one will think anything about it. My cousin, who is 71, said, "What's Dec 7?" I said, I rest my case. (They ignored my advice and picked another date.)

sanford said...

Here is an interesting baseball story related to Pearl Harbor. The St Louis Browns wanted to move to Los Angeles. It was just about a done deal. The vote was supposed to be Dec 8th but then Pearl Harbor happened. The rest of the article is a fantasy of what might have happened if the Browns had moved to LA. https://www.mlb.com/news/featured/the-story-of-the-los-angeles-browns-changed-baseball-forever

Lorimartian said...

I was born after 1945, and WWII profoundly affected my family. My father was a "frogman"/war hero and NEVER talked about his experiences or accolades. He continued to be a high achiever, however, I believe that he suffered from PTSD the rest of his life. In the attack on Pearl Harbor, my grandmother lost a son, my mother lost a brother, and I lost an uncle I never got to know. In the eyes of any country's military machine, these young men and women are simply cannon fodder and expendable, no matter how much those in charge profess to mourn the dead. It's shameful, really.

The sooner the world moves to establish matriarchies, the better, as long as they don't include the likes of Majorie Taylor Greene and her ilk. I don't think women in general crave tyrannical power or are hell bent on acquiring land by terrorizing its inhabitants. They don't have the need to compensate for a small dick or short stature by waging war. I feel certain that women will find a way to abolish this senseless bloodshed, but, sad to say, probably not in my lifetime.

Thank you, Ken. No matter the passage of time, it IS important to remember.

Kirk said...

I've seen how easily Americans, rightly or wrongly, were whipped up into a war furor prior to the two Gulf Wars, so it's not hard for me to believe that the same thing would happen were Pearl Harbor bombed today. Antigovernment skepticism always seems weakest at the outset of a war. If the war goes on too long, well, then the old skepticism returns.

Blaze Morgan said...

Up here in Canada, a bunch of us once sat down to play this board game involving World War II. Our American expatriate friend, with innocent confusion, why the game started in 1939 and not when the war began? We tempered our response, but he was still taken aback at the heat of our answer.

A dollop of the infamy for Dec.7, 1941 is that it forever marks how late the USA was in joining the fight.

Kosmo13 said...

The Time Tunnel TV series made me aware, when I was 8, of the Pearl Harbor attack and the significance of December 7th. That awareness has stuck with me for the past 55 years. Maybe more people should watch Irwin Allen TV shows.

Roger Owen Green said...

Unsurprisingly, I wrote on the same topic: https://www.rogerogreen.com/2021/12/07/does-pearl-harbor-still-live-in-infamy/

Unrelated, I was on Long Island to see the Dave Koz Christmas show. My niece Rebecca Jade was the vocalist. I stayed at a hotel once owned by Burt Bacharach. On the walls were photos. Some were of horse race winners, with the jockey usually the famed Willie Shoemaker. Angie Dickinson, who I had forgotten had been married to Burt for a time, I recognized instantly. There's a headshot of Edward Winter, who played the annoying Col. Flagg on MASH.

Barbara Fox said...

I'm a history instructor at a community college. I am lucky enough to have great students - smart, hardworking, capable of critical thinking, etc. So imagine my surprise - and sadness - to discover that many of them have never heard of Hemingway, or Eugene O'Neill or the film "Casablanca," or Norse mythology from a source other than the Marvel Universe and so much more. We no longer have a common culture and historical memory is getting shorter and shorter.

They usually do know about The Day That Will Live in Infamy, and I love telling them about the ironic place Earl Warren holds in history - wrote the legal justification for the Internment Camps, then went on to be Chief Justice of the most liberal Supreme Court in history.

Oh, and I hate the Michael Bay "Pearl Harbor" film, too. Except for Alec Baldwin's performance as Jimmy Doolittle.

The Time Machine said...

We still honor that day and its impact here in Hawaii. It did give me pause last night on the "CBS Evening News" where the segment covered the three remaining survivors who attended yesterday's ceremony at Pearl Harbor. All three of them are now over a hundred years old and the story pondered what will become of this moment in history when the only three people that were there will no longer be around to share what happened?

Brandon in Virginia said...

Today, half the country would say the Japanese attack was a hoax. We were not stupid back then.

I'd give up my next paycheck to return to an era when the news actually cared about informing people and not yelling bullshit hot takes for three hours.

Tom Galloway said...

For what it's worth, the number of "date that will live in infamy" jokes I get has declined over the years. December 7th being my birthday.

Sean MacDonald said...

I'm reminded of this xkcd reference to the President Garfield assassination.