Remembering Pearl Harbor

2011

50 years ago this week, a tragic event has been imprinted in U.S. history. On December 7, 1941, Japan sent midget submarines and planes each with explosives to Oahu with the intent to bomb America's naval base. This week, we remember those who died in Pearl Harbor.


We were not prepared for this attack. General Walter Short was commander of the army near Oahu. He misinterpreted a message and and prepared the base for a sabotage attack. This meant all planes had to be landed closely together so that the soldiers didn't have to defend so much space. Unfortunately, this made it easier for the Japanese to destroy the base. At first, Japan sent undercover midget subs for an attack. However, they were caught before they could do damage. But that didn't stop their army. Their first wave consisted of 189 planes, torpedo and high-altitude bombers would aim for the battleships, and dive-bombers would target the airfield. There second wave was 171 planes. They were sent to finish total destruction.



Half of the U.S. navy was docked on December 7, including its battleships: the Nevada, Tennessee, Arizona, West virginia, Maryland, Oklahoma, and California. The USS West Virginia sunk after ten bombs. The USS Oklahoma went down shortly after. Then the USS Nevada tried to escape, but sadly sunk after being hit five times. The worst attack was the USS Arizona. Only 337 of the crewmen survived. It was the "worst ship single disaster" of the time.


After the attack, 2,403 people had died, including civilians. 21 ships had sunk or exploded. Nearly 350 planes were destroyed. America's navy was in ruins. Today, a memorial stands on remembrance of Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial. It stands over the ruins of the ship and has the 1,177 names of the people who died on the vessel. Although we have made up with the Japanese, we will never forget those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Many know that the attack on Pearl Harbor was Japan attacking us. But do you know about how we fought back? After Pearl Harbor, the President Roosevelt decided to clear the West Coast of any Japanese-American families. They were forced to sell their property and go to relocation camps located in California, Wyoming, Idaho, Arkansas, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. In the ten camps, 120,000 people were enslaved in them. This is because we were worried that they were letting Japanese messages pass through to Japan's army. Instead of interrogating them all and finding the people who were actually helping Japan, we sent any Japanese-American people into camps, no matter if they had a citizenship. After the war ended in 1945, most families were able to leave. The last camp closed out in March 1946. All the Japanese families where given restitution payments if they had survived the camp. Even though Pearl Harbor was bad, we were just as bad to our own citizens as they were to us.