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Sandra Scott Travels: Remembering that ‘Day of Infamy’

USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial

Last week I asked: What does “Tora! Tora!” mean?

It literally means “tiger.”

USS Arizona Memorial
USS Arizona Memorial

Tora! Tora! was the Japanese code word made famous when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 propelling the United States into World War II.

The term means “tiger” but, in this case, it was an acronym meaning “lightning attack.”

On December 11, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan; in return, on the same day Germany and Italy, Japanese allies, declared war on the United States.

Visiting Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu is a profound experience and visitors should plan to spend the better part of the day there because there is a lot to see and do.

The main attraction is the USS Arizona Memorial with an informative 23-minute movie followed by a boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is built atop the ship that is the final resting place for 1,177 of the USS Arizona’s crewmen.

The USS Arizona’s 1,177 crewmen.
The USS Arizona’s 1,177 crewmen.

It was the greatest loss of life on any US warship in American history.

The names and ranks of the crewmen are listed on the memorial wall.

There were 37 sets of brothers on board that fateful day.

Nearby in the water are memorials to the other ships destroyed on that Day of Infamy.

When the USS Arizona sank there were more than a million gallons of fuel on board.

Some of it still surfaces.

USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor
USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor

Survivors have called the oil droplets “Black Tears.”

It helps to get USS Arizona tour tickets on line; however, the National Park Service gives out more than 2,000 free walk-up tickets each day on a first come basis.

The tour of the USS Arizona take about two hours but there is much more to see there.

For Americans, the Pearl Harbor attack was the beginning of World War II; but the war had already started in Europe with the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and in Asia the fighting started when the Japanese invaded China in 1937.

The formal end of World War II took place on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, and was broadcast throughout the world.

Memorials to the other ships destroyed in the attack.
Memorials to the other ships destroyed in the attack.

Gen. MacArthur said, “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed.”

Today the USS Missouri is at anchor in Pearl Harbor.

Nearby, on Historic Ford Island, is the Pacific Aviation Museum with two hangers of exhibits.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was intended to prevent the US Pacific Fleet from interfering with the Japanese plan to take over other areas in the Pacific.

"Three Days In December" display at Guam National  Park.
“Three Days In December” display at Guam National Park.

Many people do not realize that the attack on Pearl Harbor was part of a greater offensive.

On the same day (it was December 8 in Asia) they were simultaneous Japanese attacks on the US-held Philippines, Wake Island, and Midway Island; plus, there were assaults on Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

The Japanese did not occupy the island of Oahu like they did the other places they attacked, which led to the people in those areas suffering from Japanese occupation much the same as those in China.

Interestingly, Hawaii and the Philippines, prior to December 1941, were considered great places to be stationed.

battle reenactment
Battle reenactment

We learned more at the US National Parks in Guam and Saipan, plus the World War II museum in Singapore.

At the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, they have a realistic battle reenactment several times a week.

Trivia Tease™: What history event took place on December 16, 1773?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!