Dec. 7, 2008, marked the 67th anniversary of the sneak
attack on Pearl Harbor by elements of the Japanese navy. That occurrence in
1941 immediately plunged the United States into World
War II and would eventually cost this country hundreds of thousands of lives.
One Internet source states that 416,800 Americans died in the war.
the years this tragedy has been somewhat watered down by politically correct individuals
who don’t want to offend the Japanese. And although I haven’t seen one lately,
I wonder just how much about this event is recorded in school textbooks. I do
know that many calendars no longer mark the day.
People who are old enough
to recall that dramatic event can tell you exactly where they were and what they
were doing when they heard the news.
My dad was 21 years old and already
in the Texas National Guard when
Pearl Harbor was attacked. He lived in Austin
and remembers that they were ordered to secure Camp Mabrey where he was stationed.
“They ordered us to guard a warehouse full of old boots from World
War I. The toes were turned up on them and they were in terrible shape, I
doubt if the enemy would have wanted them,” he said.
Dad said they didn’t
find out until they went to the firing range that the old World
War I era rifles they were issued didn’t even have firing pins. He spent the
next four years of his young life serving with the Army in France, Belgium, and
Many folks in these parts got the news via the radio or newspaper.
The Dec. 9, 1941, issue of The Lavaca County Tribune had a large headline
on the front page that read: “United States in War with Japan.” The paper was
published on Tuesdays and Fridays back then and the attack happened on Sunday
which explains the delay in getting the news in print. No doubt everyone had already
heard the newscast on the radio.
The Dec. 9 issue also reported that the
Dutch Indies, Canada, and Costa Rica had declared war on Japan. It also included
information about several Hallettsville
boys; Gus Smolik, was on the battleship Oklahoma that was sunk during the attack
and Joe Henneke was serving with the Marines at Pearl Harbor.
also invaded Wake Island and the Philippines would eventually fall.
issues of the paper included information regarding action taken by the House to
activate the draft. The headline stated that men 21 to 44 years old would be called
up. And all males between the ages of 18 and 65 had to register. The report said
the proposed measure would go to the Senate for approval. The initial plan was
to raise an army of six million.
It seems that we were just as unprepared
for the sneak
attack on Pearl Harbor as we were the attack Sept. 11, 2001, on the World
In my opinion, we should learn from our mistakes and improve
our position. But unfortunately, with the lack of security on our borders, we
are apt to see another attack on this country.
I don’t know about you,
but it is very frustrating to me that our government doesn’t do more to protect
Plain old common sense would confirm that it is much more
important to secure U.S. borders than the borders in Iraq or Afghanistan.
need to be ever vigilant and not get caught unaware again. Remember Pearl Harbor!
© Murray Montgomery
Star Diary December
11, 2008 Column
Related Story: Pearl
Harbor survivor Vic Lively
Topics: World War II | War
War I | Texas Towns | People