The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
This is the USS Shaw (DD-373) exploding after being struck during the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was heavily damaged during the attack. It was snapped by a US Navy combat photographer, who probably realized he was now a "combat" photgrapher some minutes before this happened
These are the sights and sounds that greeted 2 of my great uncles that Sunday morning in December. One of them in the US Navy stationed at Kaneohe Naval Air Station and the other, my Great Uncle Hugh, stationed at Hickam Airfield.
These images are also especially important to me this year because my Great Uncle Hugh passed away in November. I will miss him. He was one of my favorites.
He never talked about that day or what his involvement in WWII was, so I had to find out about what my family contributed to the cause of freedom in the last great war. I found out some about this contribution from my grandmother. Before she died, she told me about what a harrowing experience this was for my family, years before even my father was born.
My grandmother had not met my grandfather. Her mother and her sisters were all still living at home. She also told me that on the morning of December 7th, 1941, she and her mother (my great grandmother) and her sisters were going about their daily business when they heard the news over the radio that day.
That was when the worry began.
Their worries would not be abated, because day after day, there was consistent news, but no news for our family. In the age of the infancy of international land line telephones, and the "internet" of the day being radio and telegrams, they just listened to the radio and waited. In fact, they waited for 21 days before a man with a telegram appeared at their door. The telegram contained only two words, because, as the family found out later, that was all they were allowed to send.
I can only imagine what must have been racing through the minds of my great aunts, grandmother and great-grandmother as the man from Western Union made his way up the driveway. I cannot imagine what happened as they read those words. It gives me chills to think about it today.
My great uncle Hugh is now one of the many WWII veterans who are passing at a rate of 1,000 a day. I am saddened by the fact that now, the only stories I will hear of that part of our history, and my family's history, will come from my Dad, who heard the stories when he was a boy.
I found this on the web when I was looking for pictures of the attack. I thought it was well done, so I hope that you will too. Also, the entire speech by FDR, audio and transcripted, along with speeches on the house floor by some of our elected representatives is here.
It is important that we remember this day, like we remember September 11th, 2001. It was a watershed moment that galvanized our country to action, as we mourned our dead and collected our wounded. It is important to remember the lessons of those days. It is important to remember to ask these old men about their stories and, if they can tell us, we should listen.
And if you haven't seen The War by Ken Burns, you should. It is on my Christmas shopping list.
I miss you Uncle Hugh and I am sorry I never asked about your service when I was young. I know that God has a special place for you to rest your soul.