Remembering Pearl Harbor 76 years later

Published 11:24 am Thursday, December 7, 2017

On April 19, 1860, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in a poem familiar to many of us, asked, “Who remembers that famous day and year?”

Of course, the day Longfellow was asking about was the 18th of April, in 1775, when Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride.

For a long time, we, by almost every means, were reminded to remember another date more recent but just as poignant that profoundly changed our world. But have we allowed the memory of that fateful day to fade from our minds?

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On Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, all was quiet on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu. Early that morning, some say at 7:48 a.m. and others say at 7:55 a.m., a small plane with the red Rising Sun symbol of Japan on its wings appeared out of the clouds over the Waianae mountain range on the west side of that peaceful island.

That little plane appeared to be harmless, but it was followed by 352 warplanes in two groups, and in about two hours Pearl Harbor was almost destroyed, but it was forever etched upon the minds of many American citizens.

History records what happened that morning. In that attack, 2,403 American servicemen were killed and another 1,178 were wounded.

Twenty American naval ships anchored around Ford Island were destroyed or seriously damaged and one report states that 170 planes of the United States stationed at Hickam Air Force Base were destroyed and 160 were damaged.

In assessing the damages, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and E. B. Potter of the U. S. Naval Academy wrote, “These losses had the effect of uniting the people of the United States in a vigorous prosecution of the war that had been forced upon them.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a speech before a joint session of Congress, called that day “A day that will live in infamy.”

Lest we forget, this week a nation will observe the 76th anniversary of that day of infamy.

Howard Coop is a retired minister, author, and religion columnist that contributes regularly to The Jessamine Journal. He can be reached at