Yes, it's that time of year again. Today marks the anniversary of one of the most famous attacks on the USA in history, right up there with 9/11. Seventy-two years ago today, the Japanese launched their attack on Pearl Harbor, damaging and destroying several battleships and other naval vessels and killing about 2,500 American citizens. The attack, as we all know, ushered America into World War II, the single bloodiest, goriest, most horrific conflict this planet has ever seen. For as horrible and grisly as World War I was, WWII easily surpassed it and THEN some in terms of sheer magnitude.
In the short term, Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor was a good move. It sent a message to America, and for the first several months of the war as America was behind, they scored victory after victory and conquered much of the Pacific (to the point where they had plans to invade and conquer Fiji, the Hawaiian Islands, and even planned to isolate and cut off Australia). But in the long run, attacking Pearl Harbor turned out to be Japan's biggest mistake. They had hoped that the attack on Pearl Harbor and their early victories in the Pacific would demoralize the US and would ultimately force America into peace talks, allowing Japan to have control of the Pacific. But instead it had the exact opposite effect. Americans were outraged and determined to defeat the Japanese for what they had done. And once the US caught up, Japan was pretty much screwed as they were hopelessly crushed. Hundred upon hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops were killed, virtually the entire Japanese navy was destroyed and sent to the bottom of the Pacific, including all six of the carriers that launched the Pearl Harbor attacks, (whereas the US was constantly able to build new vessels to replace the ones they lost and then some, having significantly more resources), all the territory they had conquered was taken back, and ultimately the war ended with Japan having a pair of nukes dropped on them after they refused to surrender, vaporizing hundreds of thousands of people. War is hell. Plain and simple.
But times can change a lot of things. In the nearly three-quarters of a century since the end of the war, Japan has become one of America's closest friends (hell, most of our videogames and a significant portion of automobiles come from there, don't they?), and they are now one of the most peaceful nations on the entire planet. I don't harbor any ill will towards the Japanese (my father actually spent some time in Japan back in the early '80s when he was active in the US Navy), and as I said last year, it appalls me that some people thought the tsunami that struck Japan a couple of years ago was karma for the attack on Pearl Harbor. That is ridiculous as I would say Japan paid more than enough for the Pearl Harbor attacks over the course of World War II.
But still, today is a somber day for the US, for sure. It's a day to think of all those who were killed in the attack (in particular, those who died on the USS Arizona, where nearly half of those who lost their lives on that day were killed) and to think of the gruesomeness of the war itself. Though I realize that people will always violently disagree with one another and war will always be a part of humanity's existence (a world without war, sadly, is pretty much impossible to achieve), I SINCERELY hope we never have a conflict of that magnitude happen again...