Pearl Harbor remembered 70th anniversary!


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Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
Dec 7, 2012 - 03:19pm PT
I remember listening to the Pearl Harbor news come in on the radio. I was ten. To give you an idea of the racist mentality of the time, I wasn't much scared by the Japanese, whom most people thought were not a very sophisticated race. But I remember listening to the declaration of war with Germany, and that scared hell out of me.

Humorous note: after the war I was walking down the street with my little brother who was 9, and a couple of people walked by speaking German. Bro said, "What kind of people were those?" I said, "They were Germans." His eyes got very big and he said, "Are they tame yet?"

Dec 7, 2012 - 03:20pm PT
This is the first Pearl Harbor anniversary I can't pick up a phone and chat with Dad about his experiences back in WWII. I'm sure he and his shipmates are now swapping tales and tipping a few upstairs.

Miss you!

Credit: Gene

Credit: Gene

Credit: Gene

Dec 7, 2012 - 03:30pm PT
Eye of Diablo to be lit

A handful of volunteers spent a chilly morning last week at the top of Mount Diablo to make sure a bright beacon would shine once again to remember America's darkest day.

The beacon is the Eye of Diablo, lit only once a year, on Dec. 7, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Eye will be lit after a ceremony at sunset on Friday and turned off again at sunrise the next morning.


In 1928, the Standard Oil Co. of California put up a beacon on the peak to guide airplanes. It was moved in 1939 from a steel tower to the present site atop a stone and steel summit building. The beacon is so powerful it can be seen for almost 200 miles.

On Dec.8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor, the light was turned off lest it serve as a guide for enemy planes. It was dark for 23 years.

In 1964, Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz suggested the beacon be turned on every Dec. 7 to honor the memory of Pearl Harbor. Every year there was a ceremony, and Pearl Harbor survivors came to tell their stories. But now, after 71 years, the ranks are thinning. Only five Pearl Harbor survivors are left among the million people who live near Diablo.

Read more:

See for yourself:
Dave Kos

Trad climber
Dec 7, 2012 - 03:42pm PT
America's darkest day.

A dark day, no doubt, but I don't think it ranks as the "darkest."

There are more than a few days during the Civil War that rank as much darker than the day of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Dec 7, 2012 - 04:02pm PT
Many a dark day during wars but that was much like the shock of 911.

Ill never forget watching that live on tv. Never.

That generation, we now call the greatest is getting very scarce and thats a sad thing.

It was people like Dan Burns, a young sixteen yr old that lied of his age- enlisted and spent his seventeenth birthday on the batan death march. He survived, and escaped prison to rejoin his outfit and fight the rest of the war out.. After the end, he returned to the camp he was held in as a pow, and in the water tower was hidden their tranisistor radio and a flag they had made of spare cloth to put on the roof of the barracks in case of an air raid invasion.
His son now owns that flag. This past July Mr Dan Burns was put to rest in Arlington natl cemetetary with a select crowd of whos who from ex presidents to kings to my buddy who was a personal friend and therapist of Dans. A heros honor for one of "the Greatest".

Mom passed away in 2001, Pa in 1996. I miss them to this day- both of that generation.

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 7, 2012 - 04:12pm PT
"How pathetic"

That's a normal reaction to worldview-challenging information or ideas. I would suggest looking into the issue more deeply if you are so inclined, recognizing that your disgust at what I said has been "bought and paid for" (i.e. "programmed") by the media and it's co-conspirators (big business, government).

I don't think I'm alone in my view (expressed in my earlier post). There are many academics and intellectuals and regular-folk that reject the standard-issue history of our country in favor of something more rational and realistic such as what I proposed.

Social climber
So Cal
Dec 7, 2012 - 06:26pm PT

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Dec 7, 2012 - 06:39pm PT
Darkmagus, I'm willing to consider the possibility that some people at the top suspected that Japan was going to attack, and were willing to let them land a first blow. If that was a decision made at the top, it was a ruthless one indeed, but strategically effective. I don't see that as some sort of "worldview changing" idea.

That also does not change the fact that there is evil at work in the world. Observe the actions of the Japanese at Nanking and other places, Korea for one. Observe the actions of the Germans against their own Jewish citizens or Saddam Hussien against his Kurdish people. Those were not the actions of high ranking American government officials trying to freak us out.

Sadly I am afraid Plato got it right.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 7, 2012 - 06:48pm PT
Thanks - Gene, Wayne and Ron especially for their personal stories.

My mother visited Germany in about 1937, with her mother and younger sister. She was then about eight, and mostly visiting family in quiet places, but clearly remembered how scary it was.

Very few of the US's leaders in 1941 can have been truly surprised that the Japanese finally responded militarily to economic and other provocations, or that Germany declared war on the US. Even the so-called isolationists, some of whose behaviour is explained by the near-certainty of the US eventually becoming actively involved, and simply wanting to put it off as long as possible. They might have been unsure as to exactly when and how armed conflict would begin, but US support for Britain and its allies became brazen by summer 1941, and the US had been in a pissing match in the Pacific with Japan since the late 1930s. Lend lease, financial and material aid, navy patrols in the Atlantic... Hitler knew that sooner or later Germany would be fighting the USA, and that wasn't just his weltanschaunng talking. Had he not been busy invading the Soviet Union in June 1941, his declaration might have come earlier.

All that said, the attack on Pearl Harbour, like that on 11/9, had a great deal more symbolic than actual effect. Japan could never have beaten the US, and indeed in the greater scheme, Germany was a much more serious opponent.

Social climber
Dec 7, 2012 - 07:24pm PT
Pearl Harbor is a hard pill to swallow; especially if you have been there and felt the breeze slightly tease the Arizona Memorial.

No one should ever forget sacrifices made by those in uniform in the line of duty on any field of battle (including the streets and buildings of the mainland).

At the very very highest level, FDR and a few others were fully aware of the Japanese invasion as it was mobilized and approached.

Since the card was thrown on the table I have to say "baloney".

Certainly our government was aware of the threat of offensive action by the Japanese; but anyone who thinks that virtually all of our Pacific Fleet and most westerly line of defense was about to go up in smoke as a sacrificial lamb is wrong.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 7, 2012 - 07:41pm PT
I have the Stinnet book but believe he is reaching.

We knew that war with the Japanese was imminent, but thought that they would attack the Philippines first.

I just watched Tore, Tora, Tora again and feel it was fairly factual.

I like at the end where Yamamoto says, "I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve."

Social climber
Right outside of Delacroix
Dec 8, 2012 - 12:26am PT
Another question is why did MacArthur get caught by surprise? He was very thorough in assaulting the veterans of the Bonus March, why was he so lax in preparing for an attack the day after Pearl Harbor?


Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Dec 8, 2012 - 12:32am PT
I suggest you read "The Generals" by Thomas Ricks, recently published.
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Dec 8, 2012 - 01:28am PT
Also read "Imperial Cruise" by James Bradley for some background about Teddy Roosevelt's efforts at influencing policy in the Far-East and how some of those policies influenced later Japanese actions leading to Pearl Harbor.

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 8, 2012 - 01:38am PT
I think there's a lot to the book "Day of Deceit" One of the points being that the director of the Office of Naval Intelligence's Far East Asia section proposed an 8 point plan to provoke the Japanese to attack us and we implemented each and every point.

Now it's possible we didn't know how and to what extent we'd be attacked, and maybe it was a coincidence all our aircraft carriers were out to sea when it happened.

but it's worth knowing it didn't come out of the blue but in fact we intentionally invited an attack because we needed one to get in this important war

That doesn't diminish the courage of any of the sailors involved but we should have blinders on about how things work



The memo outlined the general situation of several nations in World War II and recommended an eight-part course of action for the United States to take in regards to the Japanese Empire in the South Pacific,[citation needed] suggesting the United States provoke Japan into committing an "overt act of war".[2]The memo illustrates several people in the Office of Naval Intelligence promoted the idea of goading Japan into war:[3] "It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado [...] If by [the elucidated eight-point plan] Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better."

The McCollum memo contained an eight-part plan to counter rising Japanese power over East Asia:

A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore
B. Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific[,] in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire

Admiral Nimitz turned down the command of the Pacific Fleet [12] so that he would not become the scapegoat[citation needed] if the Japanese attacked the United States by surprise. In a History Channel interview, Admiral Chester Nimitz Jr. described his father's political maneuver: "He said, 'It is my guess that the Japanese are going to attack us in a surprise attack. There will be a revulsion in the country against all those in command at sea, and they will be replaced by people in positions of prominence ashore, and I want to be ashore, and not at sea, when that happens.'"

course it's all complicated and there's nuances, but it's not like we were just whistling in the sun and all of a sudden Japan invades

Social climber
It's Ault or Nunn south of Shy Annie
Dec 8, 2012 - 01:45am PT
Heros all
Credit: Robb
'nuff' said

Dec 8, 2012 - 04:17am PT
Very few of the US's leaders in 1941 can have been truly surprised that the Japanese finally responded militarily to economic and other provocations,

Um MH, Care to rephrase this one -perhaps something taking into account the broader sweep of japanese masacres in China that just maybe precipitated some of the "economic and other provocations" snot!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Dec 8, 2012 - 04:43am PT
Um MH, Care to rephrase this one -perhaps something taking into account the broader sweep of japanese masacres in China that just maybe precipitated some of the "economic and other provocations" snot!

Seriously doubt we wanted war with Japan because of their masacres in China, but their expansionism in general and just politics. Here's what Patrick Buchanan wrote about it

To understand why Japan lashed out, we must go back to World War I. Japan had been our ally. But when she tried to collect her share of the booty at Versailles, she ran into an obdurate Woodrow Wilson.

Wilson rejected Japan's claim to German concessions in Shantung, home of Confucius, which Japan had captured at a price in blood. Tokyo threatened a walkout if denied what she had been promised by the British. "They are not bluffing," warned Wilson, as he capitulated. "We gave them what they should not have."

In 1921, at the Washington Naval Conference, the United States pressured the British to end their 20-year alliance with Japan. By appeasing the Americans, the British enraged and alienated a proud nation that had been a loyal friend.

Japan was now isolated, with Stalin's brooding empire to the north, a rising China to the east and, to the south, Western imperial powers that detested and distrusted her.

When civil war broke out in China, Japan in 1931 occupied Manchuria as a buffer state. This was the way the Europeans had collected their empires. Yet, the West was "shocked, shocked" that Japan would embark upon a course of "aggression." Said one Japanese diplomat, "Just when we learn how to play poker, they change the game to bridge."

Japan now decided to create in China what the British had in India a vast colony to exploit that would place her among the world powers. In 1937, after a clash at Marco Polo Bridge near Peking, Japan invaded and, after four years of fighting, including the horrific Rape of Nanking, Japan controlled the coastal cities, but not the interior.

When France capitulated in June 1940, Japan moved into northern French Indochina. And though the United States had no interest there, we imposed an embargo on steel and scrap metal. After Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941, Japan moved into southern Indochina. FDR ordered all Japanese assets frozen.

But FDR did not want to cut off oil. As he told his Cabinet on July 18, an embargo meant war, for that would force oil-starved Japan to seize the oil fields of the Dutch East Indies. But a State Department lawyer named Dean Acheson drew up the sanctions in such a way as to block any Japanese purchases of U.S. oil. By the time FDR found out, in September, he could not back down.

Tokyo was now split between a War Party and a Peace Party, with the latter in power. Prime Minister Konoye called in Ambassador Joseph Grew and secretly offered to meet FDR in Juneau or anywhere in the Pacific. According to Grew, Konoye was willing to give up Indochina and China, except a buffer region in the north to protect her from Stalin, in return for the U.S. brokering a peace with China and opening up the oil pipeline. Konoye told Grew that Emperor Hirohito knew of his initiative and was ready to give the order for Japan's retreat.

Fearful of a "second Munich," America spurned the offer. Konoye fell from power and was replaced by Hideki Tojo. Still, war was not inevitable. U.S. diplomats prepared to offer Japan a "modus vivendi." If Japan withdrew from southern Indochina, the United States would partially lift the oil embargo. But Chiang Kai-shek became "hysterical," and his American adviser, one Owen Lattimore, intervened to abort the proposal.

Facing a choice between death of the empire or fighting for its life, Japan decided to seize the oil fields of the Indies. And the only force capable of interfering was the U.S. fleet that FDR had conveniently moved from San Diego out to Honolulu.

And so Japan attacked. And so she was crushed and forced out of Vietnam, out of China, out of Manchuria. And so they fell to Stalin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh. And so it was that American boys, not Japanese boys, would die fighting Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese to try to block the aggressions of a barbaric Asian communism.

And here's an interesting round up of japanese move to comply with US demands before the war even started
Tony Bird

Northridge, CA
Dec 8, 2012 - 09:33am PT
i see that the late john toland's book hasn't been mentioned on this thread. his infamy is probably the best-researched study of the run up to and the hush-hush over pearl harbor. from the summary and endorsement:

It was the Japanese code that meant war--and the U.S. had broken it! Yet on December 7, 1941--the day that will live forever in infamy--the U.S. armed forces at Pearl Harbor were caught entirely by surprise. Or were they?

John Toland, one of America's most respected historians, has written a shocking and revealing account of the events surrounding Pearl Harbor, uncovering evidence that FDR and his top advisers knew about the planned Japanese attack but remained silent so that the U.S. would be drawn into the war. Even more shocking was the conspiracy afterwards to cover up the facts and find scapegoats for the greatest disaster in U.S. miltary history.

"John Toland has been fearless in the pursuit of truth ... INFAMY is not only readable and suspenseful; it is probably his most controversial book to date." -- John S.D. Eisenhower

i can give you some confirmation of this from personal knowledge. my brother in alaska has been involved in politics there on and off, and alaska, being the rather small, though geographically large, community that it is, he came to know the late joe vogler, founder of the notorious alaska independent party. joe came to alaska during world war 2 and stayed. he had no choice. he had been in the military and was aware of the foreknowledge about pearl harbor and started making some real waves about it. they gave him a choice: alaska or jail.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 8, 2012 - 12:57pm PT
Very few of the US's leaders in 1941 can have been truly surprised that the Japanese finally responded militarily to economic and other provocations,

Um MH, Care to rephrase this one - perhaps something taking into account the broader sweep of japanese masacres in China that just maybe precipitated some of the "economic and other provocations" snot!

Rephrasing isn't needed, for reasons such as those set out by Karl. There's no doubt that Japan's invasion and then occupation of much of China was opportunistic imperialism, and an ugly business. Particularly when layered onto an ugly civil war. Still, was US policy, for example the oil export embargo, motivated by what the Japanese were doing to the people of China? There was a strategic concern as to growing Japanese power, and as to how to get the US public to support bringing the Japanese to heel. And some idealism in parts of the US government, the "missionaries", with regard to China. But the US had provided a fine example with its invasion/liberation and occupation of the Philippines. The fate of the individuals affected wasn't much of a concern.

I don't for a second buy the conspiracy theory nonsense about the US leadership knowing specifically of the attack on Pearl Harbour, and deliberately doing nothing, so as to ensure that the US went to war. But I believe that most of them knew that the escalating rhetoric and actions in the Pacific would eventually lead to war, even though the real enemy was Germany and then the USSR. It was a natural outcome of the imperialism that began with the war against Spain, if not earlier.
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