With the passing of the generation that lived at the time of World War II, little notice is made today of the date of infamy when on a peaceful Sunday morning on Dec. 7, 1941, enemy aircraft from Japan attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing 2,403 citizens of the United States and injuring 1,178 others.
On Aug. 23, 1994, the United States Congress designated Dec. 7 of each year as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day to be part of the nation’s Patriotic and National observances and ceremonies of the US Code.
The Congressional action said that the American flag should be flown at half staff every Dec. 7 until sunset to honor those who died as a result of the attack in Hawaii.
That doesn’t seem to be happening often in recent years.
There is little recognition of the date and the reason for remembering it.
The attack started at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian time with the base being struck by 353 imperial Japanese aircraft including fighters, level and dive bombers, torpedo bombers launched in two waves from six aircraft carriers.
People in the United States would first hear of the attack about 2:30 p.m. as part of CBS radio World News Today.
There were only brief interruptions of scheduled radio programs with little details available for the hours that followed.
The late Henry “Al” Shelleday of the Mt. Laurel section of Hewitt was at Pearl at the time of the attack and was one of those who survived.
After World War II he had an electronics business in a West Milford storefront where residents had the opportunity to purchase washers, dryers and television sets. Shelleday was a radio communications expert during the war.
On Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the attack, Congress declared War on Japan.
On Dec. 11, 1941 Germany and Italy declared was on the United States which resulted in a response of a declaration of war against Germany and Italy.
The United States was at war, and a participant in World War II.
Over seven hours there were coordinated attacks on United States holdings at the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Life for the American people changed greatly after Dec. 7, 1941 during three and a half years of war.
Mothers traditionally were taking care of the home and children while fathers were the breadwinners for families across the nation.
This changed when men were drafted into the army and mothers went to work outside the home in defense factories.
Kids were left to fend for themselves, with mom no longer home to get them off to school or meet them at the end of the school day.
They became latch-key children.
The number of dropouts increased significantly as young men joined the military.
Many youths of the generation said in later years they felt they were robbed of their childhood.
It was a bad time for Japanese Americans who were rounded up and housed in internment camps.
The late Bob Kochka of Echo Lake served in the occupation Army in Japan after the war.
He told stories of being welcomed by the Japanese people and said they were unaware of the war and did not have information about what was happening.
They too suffered as a result of the actions of their leaders. Life for those in Japan was hard with people suffering from hunger and other problems.
Some books report that Japanese leaders intended the attack as a preventative action to keep the United States from interfering with its planned military action in the South Seas against overseas territories of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
In 1940 America had made new trade sanctions that limited how Japan could trade because of that nation’s action in the war already underway which didn’t cause any love between the two nations at that time.
It was a dark time for the world and those who lost their lives defending the nation should be remembered on Pearl Harbor Day each year, say those who favor annual recognition of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.