world war ii: pearl harbor

When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (then Aiko Yoshinaga) was a senior at Los Angeles High School.

She remembers the day the following spring that her principal took the Japanese students aside and said, “You’re not getting your diplomas because your people bombed Pearl Harbor.”

Japanese-American families on the West Coast were rounded up and sent to internment camps. Yoshinaga was worried that she would be separated from her boyfriend, so to the horror of her parents, Yoshinaga and her boyfriend eloped.

The Yoshinaga family was sent to the Santa Anita, Calif., detention center, and later to Jerome, Ark. Meanwhile, Yoshinaga and her new in-laws were sent to Manzanar, near Death Valley. Yoshinaga remembers their first day as hot and dusty, even though it was only April. The barracks where the family lived were crowded and sparsely decorated.

At 92, A Japanese-American Reflects On The Lessons Of Internment Camps

Photo: Lauren Migaki/NPR
Caption: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga was a high school senior when she entered the Manzanar internment camp. Now 92, she points to the place in Manzanar, near Death Valley in California, where she lived.

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On a quiet morning 75 years ago today, Imperial Japanese forces attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,100 more wounded. Twenty-one ships of the Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged, including the USS Arizona. Shocked and angered by the attack, the country joined the Allied forces to fight World War II, inspired by the call of “Remember Pearl Harbor.” A moving reminder of the service and sacrifice of those who fought, the USS Arizona Memorial is jointly administered by the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service. Photos from World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument by National Park Service.

Doris “Dorie” Miller was born in Waco, Texas in 1919. He was unable to finish high school, but helped around the family farm until just before his 20th birthday. He then enlisted with the Navy as a Messman, one of the few positions open to African-Americans.

On December 7th, 1941, Miller was a Messman Third Class serving on the USS West Virginia. He was a ship’s cook, with minimal combat training and no gunnery training, as the military was still segregated and African-Americans were not trained on the heavy guns.

When the bombs began dropping on Pearl Harbor, Miller ran to the deck of the ship and began assisting moving the wounded, including the captain of the ship. He then jumped on one of the anti-aircraft guns on deck and proceeded to try to shoot the Japanese planes down until ordered to abandon ship, at which point he continued to help move wounded soldiers from the ship.

Miller was hailed as the “Number One Hero” for African-Americans and considered one of the first American heroes of WWII. He was awarded the Navy Cross and after a massive community campaign, went on a war bond tour.

Miller returned to service on the Liscome Bay, where he died when the ship was lost at the battle of Makin Island.

Bonus: Admiral Nimitz, a native of Fredericksburg, Texas and CINCPAC during WWII, pinning the Navy Cross on Dorie Miller.

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Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor which officially catapulted the United States into the Second World War.

This illustration from 1943 depicts Doris “Dorie” Miller (1919-1943), an African-American sailor from Waco, Texas during that fateful morning in 1941 as he defends the fleet at Pearl Harbor from the USS West Virginia. Despite not being trained on the .50 caliber Browning, Miller impressively managed to shoot down an estimated 3 to 4 Japanese planes until he ran out of ammunition. At that point, Miller began to help moving injured sailors out of harm’s way before abandoning the ship.

For his efforts on that day, Miller was awarded the US Navy Cross and was lauded as one of the first American heroes in Second World War (as the pin shows).

Miller would unfortunately be killed in action onboard the USS Liscome Bay during the battle of Makin Island 1943.

(US National Archives, USAmericana)

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This is an annotated draft of the speech President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered to Congress—and the nation—on Dec. 8, 1941, one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. According to the @usnatarchives, Roosevelt dictated the speech hours after the attack, then handwrote changes.

Note at the top of first page, Roosevelt crossed out “world history” and replaced it with “infamy,” coining the phrase that has lived on in history.

Today, we remember the 75th anniversary of the attacks. 

The Day Before the Attack…

President Roosevelt studied this map on December 6, 1941. The pencil notations indicate the location of a Japanese fleet that was being tracked by British and American officials. It appeared to be headed towards Thailand or British Malaya.

What FDR and these officials did not know was that another Japanese fleet—operating under radio silence—was steaming, undetected, towards Hawaii at the same time.

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75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack

On the morning of Dec. 7,  1941, a Sunday, Japanese bombers flew across Oahu, Hawaii and began their assault.

The attack killed more than 2,300 people, nearly half of them on the battleship USS Arizona. More than 1,100 were injured. After the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech before Congress, calling Dec. 7 a “date which will live in infamy.” The U.S. declared war against Japan. (AP)

December 7, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Photos: (from top) U.S. Navy/National Archives via Reuters, U.S. Navy/U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command via Reuters (3), U.S. Navy/National Archives via Reuters (2)

See more images of Pearl Harbor attack on Yahoo News

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Should America Intervene?

“This nation will remain a neutral nation, but I cannot ask that every American remain neutral in thought as well…Even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or his conscience." 

- Franklin Roosevelt, radio address, September 3, 1939

When war erupted, Americans were divided about how to respond. They sympathized with the victims of aggression. But, remembering the horrors of World War I, most wanted to stay out of the conflict. Isolationists argued America should look to its own defenses rather than aid other nations. And neutrality laws passed by Congress during the 1930s prohibited American arms sales to warring nations. The country’s military was also woefully unprepared. All these factors placed limits on FDR’s ability to act.

In the dark months that followed, Roosevelt demonstrated his belief that America’s security depended on the defeat of the Axis Powers. His actions sparked a great national debate. Should the United States remain wholly neutral? Or should it find ways short of war to assist nations resisting Hitler?

The Reluctant Neutral

When World War II erupted in 1939, most Americans felt their nation could safely remain isolated from foreign troubles. But FDR recognized the grave danger the Axis Powers posed to American security. For two years, he pursued a cautious but deliberate policy of aiding Great Britain and, later, the Soviet Union in their war with Germany and Italy.

At every step, the President had to contend with deep-seated American fears about involvement in the war. He also had to manage a growing crisis in the Pacific, where Japan was expanding its empire into China and threatening Southeast Asia.

“It is easy for you and for me to shrug our shoulders and to say that conflicts taking place thousands of miles from the continental United States … do not seriously affect the Americas—and that all the United States has to do is to ignore them… . Passionately though we may desire detachment, we are forced to realize that … every battle that is fought, does affect the American future.”

- Franklin Roosevelt, Fireside Chat, September 3, 1939

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The USS Utah was one of many losses suffered by the United States during the attack on Pearl Harbor. ​​Of the 525 men aboard, 64 lost their lives. Among those who died was Chief Watertender Peter Tomich. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for remaining below to help others escape as the ship capsized. 

United States Navy. The USS Utah, shown capsized following Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. December 7, 1941. New-York Historical Society. 

75 years ago today - December 7 1941

Destroyers USS Downes DD-375 (left) USS Cassin DD-372 (leaning against Downes) and the Battleship USS Pennsylvania BB-38.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, USS Downes was in dry-dock with ‘Cassin’ and 'Pennsylvania’. The three came under heavy attack and an incendiary bomb landed between the two destroyers, starting raging fires fed by oil from a ruptured fuel tank. Despite heavy strafing, the crews of the two destroyers got their batteries into action, driving off further attacks by Japanese planes.
The dry-dock was flooded in an effort to quench the fires, but the burning oil rose with the water level and when the ammunition and torpedo warheads on board the destroyers began to explode, the two ships were abandoned. Later 'Cassin’ slipped from her keel blocks and rested against 'Downes’. Both ship’s hulls were damaged beyond repair but machinery and equipment were salvaged and sent to Mare Island Navy Yard where entirely new ships were built around the salvaged material and given the wrecked ship’s names and hull numbers.

USS Pennsylvania managed to escape the dubious honor of having been on Battleship Row during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but this fortunate set of circumstances also did not give her as much visibility in the public eye. For the older battleships present during the attack, 'Oklahoma’ and 'Arizona’ were destroyed and 'Nevada’ gained fame attempting to escape out of the harbor. And the newer “Big Five” battleships would be resurrected and some would be completely transformed to the point they were almost unrecognizable. But 'Pennsylvania’, stuck in drydock, became best known for being in the background. In this case, the background for the wrecks of the destroyers 'Cassin’ and 'Downes’.

'Pennsylvania’ sustained relatively minor damage during the Pearl Harbor attack, then spent much of 1942 training and conducting patrols of the United States west coast. In early 1943 she was sent to the Aleutians to help force out the Japanese forces on Attu and Kiska.

(Colourised by Royston Leonard from the UK)

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Disney During World War II: Propaganda Posters

“Disney artist Hank Porter created all of the art found on the six Aircraft Warning Service posters in this [post]. One of the posters in the series features a [racist] caricature of a Japanese soldier. This type of illustration [was] rare from the Disney Studio. While other Hollywood cartoon studios often portrayed enemy stereotypes in their cartoons, Disney rarely did. And for the amount of war-related combat insignia and home front items produced using Disney-created art, the number of ‘enemy’ stereotypes depicted is an exceptionally small number.”

Text and pics via David Lesjak. For lots more info about what Disney was doing during WWII, check out John Baxter’s brilliant book, Disney During World War II: How the Walt Disney Studio Contributed to Victory in the War.

“74 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, we endure as a nation dedicated to affirming the inherent dignity of every person—even in the face of unspeakable violence. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the day after the attack, "the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” On this day, let us honor the memory of all who gave their lives so that President Roosevelt’s words could be realized, and let us resolve to uphold the legacy of our country, for which generations of brave men and women have fought and sacrificed.“ —President Obama on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

“A military man can scarcely pride himself on having “smitten a sleeping enemy”; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counter-attack.”

-Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku.