This day is remembered as the “day that will live in infamy,” in American history. It is the day when the Japanese attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. Your editor’s father was there when it happened, stationed at Schofield Barracks.
Years ago, we asked what it was like.
“What was it like? It was mostly confusing. All of a sudden, there were planes overhead. I thought they were our planes…putting on some Sunday show…or just hot-dogging around. Then, I realized that they were trying to kill us. By that time, bombs were going off in the harbor…and falling on our base too… We were being strafed. And we were completely unprepared. I rushed out of the barracks half dressed over to the armory. We didn’t even have any weapons at hand. We had to get them out of the armory…and I had the keys. So, I ran over and started handing out rifles. We managed to shoot down one of the planes with a Browning automatic. We thought it was the beginning of an invasion, so we got our rifles and got ready to for the next wave of the attack. Nobody seemed to have a very good idea of what was going on…. They even blacked out the radio. We didn’t know what was going on…but I knew it was the start of something big.”
We spoke about ‘claptrap wars,’ last week. Any politician worth shooting can whip the public up for war; especially if it is a war against an unworthy opponent. American history – like the history of almost any major nation – is pockmarked by them. Wars against Indian tribes…wars against the Mexicans…wars against the Spanish…and the banana republic wars…
Until the Japanese attacked, Americans had fought in only one war worth fighting. And that was a war they lost. Sherman burned and looted from Atlanta to the sea…and drove Ol’ Dixie down. The wrong side won.
If anyone ever writes a book on the families that inflicted the most damage on America, the Sherman family should be on the list. Not quite as high up on the list as the Roosevelts, Kennedys or the Bushes, perhaps, but still among the top 10. One brother laid waste to Georgia; his brother was a senator who tried to lay waste to Wall Street. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was a milestone in government interference in the economy.
But back to WWII… At least the right side won in the war against Japan. And won well. Instead of the bloody frontal assaults of the War Between the States…or WWI…General MacArthur carefully outflanked the Japanese, cutting her long supply lines and depriving its army of vital supplies. The Japanese navy, for example, ran so low on fuel it couldn’t maneuver; and Japanese aircraft never performed as well as American planes, partly because they had no access to high octane fuel.
Thanks to MacArthur, casualties in the Pacific were only a fraction of those in Europe. Well done, Mac…
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