"AVENGE DECEMBER 7"
MARY JEAN KIM and KATHERINE LAMBERTH
GROUP II, TEAM 7
By July 1941, with a limited fuel supply and economic instability after the United States imposed a total oil-trade embargo, and with failing diplomatic relations between the two countries, [the leaders of] Japan realized that they would probably have to attack.
Time Line: Pearl Harbor Attack - December 7, 1941
7:53 A.M. – The first wave of 183 aircraft began their strike; dive bombers strafed Wheeler Field, a main base, destroying the [U.S.] fighters before they ever had a chance to get in the air.”1
8:40 A. M – The second wave arrived with 170 more aircraft. On the west side of Ford Island, torpedo planes struck the USS Helena, the USS Utah, and the USS Raleigh. These [strikes] were followed by torpedoes igniting Battleship Row: the USS California, the USS Nevada, the USS Oklahoma, and the USS West Virginia. Horizontal bombers hit the USS Maryland and the USS Arizona.
The Arizona suffered the worst destruction (depicted in the poster). There was a huge fireball. The forward ammunition magazines of the Arizona may have exploded. She sank within nine minutes after the direct hit of a 1,760 pound armor-piercing bomb . . . .2 1,100 crew members died. Only 337 sailors survived [this attack]. It was the worst single-ship disaster in American history . . . .3
John H. McGoran, a seaman on the California, recalled his experience: “A torpedo had hit us. The fuel tank next to our port magazine [went up] in flames and there we were, surrounded on three sides by powder-filled magazines.”4 In fact, no battleship present in Pearl Harbor that day was left untouched. In addition, 188 American planes were destroyed; 155 were damaged.
More than 2,400 Americans were killed: 2,335 military personnel and 68 civilians. Following the last hit, hospitals in Oahu overflowed with injured victims. 1,178 people had been wounded.5 At the end of two hours, 350 Japanese aircraft had sunk, or badly damaged, 21 ships. The Navy had [lost] 300,000 tons of shipping, including nineteen warships.”6
The United States suffered horrendous losses on this day. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 – “a date which will live in infamy.”7 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto [who planned the attack] knew retaliation was coming: “The attack on Pearl Harbor awakened the sleeping giant, America.”8 His fears [soon] became reality. The United States would fight back.
Bernard Perlin, the combat artist who [produced] this powerful visual reminder of the attack, used two artistic interpretations to give life to the sailor (realism), while also expressing American sentiment through abstraction. [The] clothing [of the sailor] is tattered, ripped; his forearm is extended, enlarged; his fist is raised up in the air. The sky is pitch-black behind him. Below him, the USS Arizona burns, [then] sinks, disappearing into the night. The message to the American people [is] the message of vengeance. The countenance of the sailor captures the bravery of the heroes who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor . . . .
1The Hull Note.” Online, http://www007.upp.so-et.ne.jp/togo/dic/data/hullnote.html (accessed September 28, 2006).
2Nps.gov, “USS Arizona National Memorial,” Nps.gov Online, http://www.nps.gov/usar/historyculture/stories.htm (accessed September 22, 2006).
3Dan Van Der Vat. Pearl Harbor: The Day of Infamy-An Illustrated History (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2002.
4Peattie, Mark R. and David C. “Planning Pearl Harbor.” (Hoover Digest, 1992) http://www.hooverdigest.org/982/peattie.html (accessed October 10, 2006).
5Bartlett, Bruce R., Cover-Up: The Politics of Pearl Harbor, 1941-1946. New York: Arlington House Publishers, 1978, 16.
6Dan Van Der Vat. Pearl Harbor: The Day of Infamy-An Illustrated History (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2002.
7Library of Congress, "Today in History: December 7," Library of Congress Online, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/dec07.html (accessed October 21, 2006).
8Peattie, Mark R. and David C. “Planning Pearl Harbor.” (Hoover Digest, 1992) http://www.hooverdigest.org/982/peattie.html (accessed October 10, 2006).