Opinion

Cameron’s Corner: ‘A day which will live in infamy’


“December seventh, nineteen forty one… a date which will live in infamy.” The words spoken by former US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt after the surprise attack by Japanese air and naval forces on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. An event that thrust the United States into official war with the Empire of Japan.
By Brian Cameron
Of course, it should be said that I wasn’t alive back then, in fact I’m fairly certain even my parents weren’t alive then either, but here we are 76 years later still commemorating the show of force between two warring nations.
These days one can fairly easily travel to Japan to enjoy the culture, sights and influences that help make the island nation a bucket list attraction for tourists worldwide. To have a chance to see the modern day version of the country that brought us into a terribly bloody war in the Pacific in the mid twentieth century is in and of itself an exemplary concept; post-war cooperation between former adversaries.
On that Hawaiian morning 76 years ago, a cadre of 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft, launched from six aircraft carriers. Their targets were the Navy fleet at Pearl Harbor, the attack was sent in two separate waves and with no formal declaration of war by the Japanese the attack came to US forces as a complete surprise. The Japanese attack destroyed the entire US battleship fleet at the Navy base, sinking four outright, but three cruisers, three destroyers, anti-aircraft training ship and one minelayer, as well as 188 aircraft. 2,403 Americans were killed in the incident and it left 1,178 wounded. The Japanese only lost 29 aircraft, five small submarines and 64 servicemen, and one sailor was captured by US forces.
This event profoundly changed the world, the zeal of the attacking Japanese forces was a fanaticism only matched seldom throughout history, but there it was bright as day, just before eight in the morning.
And of course, just from my perspective it’s relegated to research, the attack on Pearl Harbor took place 41 years before I was born. So as I remember the day that I’ve only heard mention of by my grandparents, and have seen a number of realistic and trite films of, I am forced to wonder how this correlates to my life experience. What does the concept of Pearl Harbor and the Attack thereof mean to me?
Of course the first thing that comes to my mind is the other, less defined, and more contentious Terrorist Attack of 9/11. September 11 was my generation’s Pearl Harbor, similar in theme, much different in its scope the repercussions are similar an attack on our nation that brought us to war.
Now, there are a number of very big differences between the two attacks. One based in nationalism, the other out of religious zealotry, but the effect the same, the motive different for why.
As I write this our nation is nearing it’s 17th year of being engaged in the Global War on Terror, and a great deal of our national GDP gets allocated to war funding every fiscal cycle. The effects of which are debatable and likely will not be felt for a number of years to come.
To me the attack on Pearl Harbor represents a dramatic shift in thinking, we were already tied up in mainland Europe and to have another adversary present themselves on the opposite side of that theater was too much for our nation to bear. It was one of the first true realizations that we all live in a globalized society, a very real reminder that though we may assume our military might and superiority, we’re not the only kid on the block.