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Dallas Remembers Pearl Harbor

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Smoke envelops the USS Arizona before it sank. | Image by The U.S. National Archives

Dallas veterans gathered today to remember the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which happened 81 years ago on December 7, 1941.

The local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars met at the Veterans Resource Center to commemorate the event that pulled America into the Second World War and to hear a keynote address from Clarence Jackson.

Jackson, the chairman of homeless veterans outreach for Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars and a board member of Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas, served in the U.S. Army as a communications center specialist.

Speaking with The Dallas Express, Jackson explained, “The thing about remembering Pearl Harbor is keeping the country alert, to let us know that this stuff can happen if we aren’t vigilant. It can happen again like it happened on 9/11.”

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese military executed a surprise attack against the American naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island, Hawaii. At 7:55 a.m. the first bomb fell, and over the course of the morning, two waves consisting of nearly 200 planes participated in the attack.

By the time the last Japanese planes flew away from Pearl Harbor less than two hours later, 2,403 Americans had died, and 19 ships were hit, with six battleships sustaining major damage.

The nearby Wheeler and Hickam airfields were also bombed, destroying over 180 American planes.

Almost simultaneously, on the other side of the world, the Japanese military attacked American and British military installations in Malaya, Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippines, Wake Island, and Midway Island.

Following the attacks, America, along with Britain and other allies, declared war on the Japanese Empire, leading to Germany and Italy declaring war on America. The cascading reactions throughout the globe fully turned the conflict into a world war.

On December 8, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously told Congress, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

“Always will our whole Nation remember the character of the onslaught against us,” he continued. “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.”

America, along with her allies, did defeat the Japanese after a long campaign that stretched across the Pacific theater of war.

At the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur announced, “Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. … The entire world lies quietly at peace. The holy mission has been completed.”

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