December 5, 2016
“A date which will live in infamy.”
Wednesday marks the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack on the naval installation at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese navy and the 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft, launched from six aircraft carriers.
At 7:48am, the attack began, with two waves of airborne destruction raining down on the American military installation. The eight U.S. battleships in port were all damaged; four were sunk. Cruisers, destroyers, an anti-aircraft ship and a minelayer – eight in all – were damaged or sunk. 188 American aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed, and 1,178 were wounded.
Caught unprepared, the defensive response on-site was minimal; only 29 attacking aircraft were downed, one midget submarine sunk, 64 service men killed, and one captured.
The reactions to the attack were multiple. In Hawaii, the immediate response was obvious and overwhelming: the dead and wounded required attention, and the destruction of the vital western naval presence called for emergency restoration. In Washington, America’s entry into the global conflict that would become World War II was sanctioned; first against Japan, and, then, against Germany and Italy. Within four days of the Pearl Harbor attack, America was at war on two fronts.
The view in the rear view mirror of history is always clear and obvious; the view through the windshield, into the future, is usually foggy and fractured. In the years since the invasion of Pearl Harbor, records of informed prognostications concerning an imminent attack on the Pearl Harbor resources by the growing Japanese naval power have come to light. Authorities as high as the president were forewarned but unresponsive. Prediction had not produced preparation; the most powerful country on the planet was caught unawares when the unimaginable occurred…
Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress the next day; 81% of Americans listened to his address – live – via radio. His opening line included the historic stamp on the attack: “A date which will live in infamy.” His speech took just seven minutes; a half hour later, Congress declared war on Japan, with only one vote in opposition. Two days later, Germany and Italy declared war on America; the next day, America accepted the challenge and reciprocated. For the next four years, life stopped around the world, and the attention of humanity was on the two-front conflict.
“The greatest and most momentous fact which the history of the world records is the fact of Christ’s birth.”
That was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, speaking 125 years ago. In the same address, he adds: “Christ is the great central fact of the world’s history. To him everything looks forward or backward. All lines of history converge upon him. All the great purposes of God culminate in him.” If December 7th is “a date which would live in infamy,” Christmas – celebrated on December 25th – would be “the date which would live in eternity.”
It should have come of no surprise. Numerous warnings of the invasion had been recorded, hundreds of years before it happened: “The Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) When word of the invasion reached King Herod, he declared war on infants in/around Bethlehem, in an effort to defeat his Enemy, Immanuel.
World War II was over by 1945, but the war against the god of this world has continued until today. Make no mistake: the escalation of the conflict involving the arrival of the King – masqueraded as an innocent child – was the decisive move that would ensure ultimate victory.
Christmas celebrates the ultimate resolution of a timeless war epic that captures and refocuses the attention of every human being ever born. “The greatest and most momentous fact which the history of the world records…”