Editorial at the New York Post
It’s the 75th anniversary of the “date which will live in infamy,” the early morning peacetime attack on Pearl Harbor that in just 30 minutes claimed 2,043 American lives — a one-day death toll that would not be exceeded until 9/11 — and unleashed a war in the Pacific that would kill millions more.
This is likely the last milestone commemoration of Pearl Harbor: The few remaining survivors are all well into their 90s. All too soon, Americans’ last first-hand links to The Greatest Generation will be gone.
But Americans should never forget what happened on that bloody day: the perfidy, the tragedy and, most of all, the bravery and unbelievable heroism.
America suffered an undeniable military disaster: Japan had hoped to wipe out our naval capability before the war had even begun. That it didn’t is only thanks to the fact that no US aircraft carriers, the prime target, were at Pearl.
Still, the Japanese sank 18 ships — most notably the U.S.S. Arizona, which lost nearly 80 percent of its crew of 1,511. Even today, oil — dubbed “black tears” — still leaks from the ship’s remains, which have been turned into a somber but stirring memorial.
The treachery of the attack, and the huge losses suffered, stunned Americans — but it also unified and galvanized them into a grim determination to persevere at all costs until total victory was won.
The nation saw much the same immediately after 9/11 — but, unlike Pearl Harbor, that unity was short-lived.
So, as we pay tribute to the heroes of Dec. 7, 1941, let us all remember also how America pulled itself up from that dark day and secured the ultimate revenge: victory.
Day of Deceit
Robert Stinnett is a former American sailor, later a photographer and author. He earned ten battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. He is the author of Day of Deceit, regarding U.S. government – specifically FDR’s advance knowledge – of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, plunging the United States into World War II.
Stinnett participated in World War II from 1942 to 1946 as a naval photographer in the Pacific theater, serving in the same aerial photo group as George H. W. Bush. After the war he worked as a journalist and photographer for the Oakland, CA Tribune. He resigned from the Tribune in 1986 to research and write.
In 1982 Stinnett read At Dawn We Slept, The Untold Story Of Pearl Harbor by World War II veteran and historian Professor Gordon Prange. Stinnett went to Pearl Harbor to investigate and write a news story. His research continued for 17 years and culminated in Day of Deceit, which challenges the orthodox historiography on the attack on Pearl Harbor. Stinnett claimed to have found information showing that the attacking fleet was detected through radio and intelligence intercepts, but that the information was deliberately withheld from Admiral Kimmel, the commander of the base.
First released in December 1999, it received a “nuanced”review in the New York Times, which (not surprisingly) defended FDR. Stinnett makes a compelling case that FDR knew full well that the attack was coming on 7 December and that Roosevelt coldly threw Admiral Kimmell and General Short under the bus, ruining their careers. While there is no doubt that the isolationist U.S. needed to enter the war, after reading Day of Deceit, one is forced to wonder if there wasn’t a way for Roosevelt to get the country engaged in the war without sacrificing 2,043 lives and the careers of the officers in charge at Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt later displayed that same chilling, cynical use of deception at Yalta, deceiving Churchill and setting the stage for the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe at the close of the war. Roosevelt apologists continue to reject the thesis of Stinnett’s book.