Eighty years ago today—at 7:48 on a Sunday morning—the Japanese Imperial Navy launched a sneak attack upon the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii. 353 Japanese planes attacked the sleeping base, resulting in over 2,400 American deaths and nearly 1,200 American wounded. There was massive destruction to the base and its fleet. The next day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war upon Japan, calling the attack "a date which will live in infamy." (Three days after that, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, though they had no binding agreement with Japan to do so.)
Only 64 Japanese were killed in the attack. Japan also conducted simultaneous attacks against the US territories of the Philippines, Guam and Wake Island. They also attacked the British territories of Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong, thus prompting England to declare war on Japan, too.
America, which had previously been (obstinately) neutral about the war, rose-up. 16 million Americans served in the war (roughly 11% of the population) and nearly 300,000 Americans perished. The war brought out the best and the worst in America. Japanese-American citizens were incarcerated in concentration camps. And America unleashed the nuclear age with the decimation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing approximately 250,000 people (which includes immediate and lingering deaths). But the war also jump-started the American economy (still listless after the Depression), brought women into the workforce in record numbers, and catapulted America to the key World Superpower for the second half of the Twentieth Century.
I was born in Honolulu, less than seven miles (and fewer than 22 years) from Pearl Harbor. My childhood understanding of the event was typically vague. I knew that the Japanese attacked the US, and I often asked myself, "What were they thinking?" But, at that young age, I did not appreciate the decisive role that Pearl Harbor played on the remainder of the American Century and how it expanded America's role in the world. I did not realize that so much of my lifetime was formed as a result of that fateful morning—and the many consequences that followed.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248