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Editorial: Remembering Pearl Harbor Day

This year, 2012, is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 

“The December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor was one of the defining moments in history,” Town Councilman Joe Muscarella said. “A single, carefully planned and precisely executed surprise attack plunged the United States into World War II. Many in my generation had relatives who remembered ‘a date which will live in infamy,’ as President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to it, and heard stories about how Pearl Harbor changed the world as they knew it. The story of Pearl Harbor bears repeating, so we all can reflect on its significance.”

The attack began at 7:48 a.m. on December 7, as the first wave of Japanese planes swooped over Pearl Harbor, starting with the airfields and moving on to the harbor. By the time the attack was over about two hours later, the loss of life and carnage were staggering. A total of 2,340 American service members were killed along with 49 civilians. Along with that, 1,443 service members and 35 civilians were wounded. Twenty-one ships, including battleships, cruisers and destroyers, of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged. Add to that the 188 aircraft that were destroyed and 159 damaged, the majority hit before they had a chance to take off. 

Fortunately three American aircraft carriers were absent from the harbor and the shore side facilities at the Pearl Harbor Naval base were not significantly damaged. Both the carriers and the shore side facilities would play important roles in the allied victory in World War II.

“Japanese Imperial Admiral Yamamoto, who conceived and promoted the Pearl Harbor attack, is quoted as saying upon the completion of the attack: ‘We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve,’” 

Councilman Muscarella said. “The attack did galvanize our nation as never before in a common cause, including to not forget the significance of Pearl Harbor Day and to remember the sacrifices of those who died or were wounded and those who went on to fight in World War II.  

“Never let us forget what we owe those who have borne the cost of battle throughout America’s history and pledge to uphold, and never take for granted, our freedom and our way of life, for which they fought, and died, to preserve.”

We have learned that freedom is not free.