Dec. 7 a day to remember

Saturday is Dec. 7. The date should ring a bell for all Americans.

It was 7:55 a.m. (Honolulu time) Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, when more than 100 Japanese planes and a number of enemy midget submarines struck the U.S. Pacific fleet of 86 ships anchored in Pearl Harbor.

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This is an occurrence that should be engraved in every American’s mind.

It plunged America into World War II.

Historians have called what happened in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, “folly” for two reasons.

It was American folly to be caught so totally off guard, and it was folly for the Japanese to believe that they could win a war against the U.S.

It teaches Americans the meaning of preparedness and alertness.

On that quiet Sunday morning, the U.S. was neither prepared nor alert.

American Army planes were destroyed on the ground at Hickam Field.

Many men were shot down as they ran to their weapons. Others were trapped and died within the burning sinking warships.

U. S. anti-aircraft guns roared to life, but they did little good. Bombs and torpedoes hit ship after ship: the Arizona, the Oklahoma, the California, the West Virginia, the Utah, the Maryland, the Pennsylvania, the Tennessee, the Nevada.

The American forces at Pearl Harbor were defeated before they could get organized.

When the smoke cleared, more than 3,000 U.S. armed services personnel and civilians had been killed and another 1,300 wounded.

Compiled by Larry Chabot of Marquette, author of The U.P. Goes To War: Upper Michigan and Its Heroes in World War II, here are 12 U.P. residents who died in the first hours of the war:

– Manfred C. Anderson of Hancock, 18th Bombardment Group, Hickam Field, Hawaii.

– Joseph Baraga, son of Mrs. Josephine Baraga of Channing, on the USS Arizona.

– Donald Clash, son of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Clash of Iron Mountain, on the USS Arizona. The Clashes also lost their son James, who died of battle wounds in Germany in March 1945.

– Kenneth Cooper, son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Cooper of Iron Mountain, on the USS California.

– Francis A. Cychosz, son of Mrs. Josephine Cychosz of Bessemer, on the USS Arizona. His brother Raymond was seriously wounded in Italy as a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division.

– William M. Finnegan of Bessemer and Dollar Bay, on the USS Oklahoma, survived by his wife and five children. Later in the war, a Navy ship was named in his honor.

– Gerald G. Lehman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lehman of Hancock, on the USS Oklahoma. His remains were returned to Houghton County for reburial in 2010.

– Francis R. McGuire, son of Mr. and Mrs. John McGuire of Wallace, on the USS Arizona. The McGuires had four other sons in service.

– Herman C. Reuss of Menominee, 11th Bombardment Group, Hickam Field, Hawaii.

– Robert L. Spreeman, son of Mrs. Ida Mae Simmons of Newberry, on the USS Arizona.

– Robert H. Thomas, son of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Thomas of Ironwood, 20th Air Base Group, Nichols Field, Luzon, the Philippines.

– Lowell E. Valley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Valley of Ontonagon, on the USS Oklahoma.

Also killed were Joseph Baraga of Channing and James London of Vulcan.

Besides the staggering human loss, the U.S. suffered major losses to its fighting craft.

The Battleship Arizona sunk in the harbor.

Severely damaged were: Battleships Oklahoma, Nevada, California and West Virginia; Destroyers Cassin, Downes and Shaw; Target Ship Utah, Minelayer Ogala.

Damaged and later repaired were: Battleships Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee; Cruisers Helena, Honolulu and Raleigh; one seaplane tender, one repair vessel, and one drydock.

Airplanes lost were: Navy 80, Army 97.

By contrast, the Japanese lost 48 planes and three submarines.

The next day, a somber President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress and asked for a declaration of war against Japan.

“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory,” Roosevelt said. “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounded determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.”

The attack on Pearl Harbor was the beginning of a long, hard struggle which ended with the atomic bomb and a U.S. victory over the Japanese nearly four years later.

The cost of victory was astronomical. More than a million American servicemen were killed or wounded.

Fast forward to Dec. 7, 2013. America continues to fight, this time it is a war against terrorists.

Much like the Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor, the terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, restored American patriotism.

Today, we’re learning new, difficult lessons. We’re learning that our enemies are not always in uniform, and that creative, covert operations can be more deadly than an armed invasion.

We’ve learned that attacks on the U.S. can happen at any time, and in many different ways.

We’re learned that a terrorist attack may come from enemies who know no country, from renegades financed by private interests.

An attack on our well-being may come as an economic attack, a military attack, computer attack, or another terrorist attack.

It is our mission to be prepared for all.

Thousands of brave men died before they could fight at Pearl Harbor. They were heroes because they gave their lives for our country.

The greatest tribute we can give those men is to pledge that there shall never be another Pearl Harbor.