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Saturday, December 7th, marked the 72nd Anniversary of the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu. The surprise attack was conducted on the Hawaiian naval base by Japan's Imperial army to try stop the United States from interfering with the country's attempt to expand its wealth and influence, by conquering neighboring Southeast Asian countries. Fearing that the US Pacific Naval Base would foil their plans, the Japanese decided to try cripple its entire fleet.
The carefully planned attack that involved sneaking six aircraft carriers, nine destroyers, two battleships, three cruisers and three submarines, 4,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, was no easy task. In order to avoid being detected, the ships took different routes and kept communications with each other to a bare minimum. It took a week and a half, but by the early hours of December 7th, the entire attack force had reached the previously decided rendezvous point, 230 miles north of the island of Oahu. Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto picked the early hours of Sunday to attack, because that was the one day that many US military personnel took time off to relax or go to church.
The brazen attack that lasted less than two hours resulted in considerable damage. Four battleships (Arizona, California, Oklahoma, and West Virginia) were sunk and 188 aircrafts destroyed. Even worse, 2,403 people lost their lives, while 1,247 were wounded. The biggest loss of life was aboard the U.S.S. Arizona, which lost 1,177 servicemen and women. Fortunately, it did not completely devastate the fleet. That's because three aircraft carriers happened to be out at sea at the time of the assault.
But more importantly, it did not defeat the spirit of the American people. As has been the case with all such unprovoked attacks, it made them stronger and determined to fight back. On December 8th, 1941, with the full support of the nation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany, finally joining 'allies' England and France, in what we all know today as World War II.
While this defining moment in US history is commemorated in many cities all across the country, it occurred so long ago that few youngsters know how the events unfolded on that fateful day. They can of course always refer to historical accounts written for adults or, seek out historical fiction writer Lauren Tarshis's, I Survived: The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941.
In her signature style, the author weaves the real facts of the horrifying event into an exciting fictional thriller. The main protagonist David Crane is an eleven-year-old who has been living in Hawaii for just a week.
Forced to move from New York by his mother who was concerned about the company the young boy was keeping, he is not happy. Missing his old life and friends, David secretly decides to return to New York by hitching a ride as a stowaway aboard a ship that was leaving for California on the morning of December 7th. Little did the young boy know that his plans coincided with one of the biggest attacks on US soil.
On that fateful morning, David waited patiently for his mother who worked as a nurse at the naval base to leave. But just as he was about to take off on his big adventure, his young neighbor Aki, knocked on the door. The usually cheerful boy was sporting a worried look on his face as he pointed to the skies at the airplanes that appeared to be zooming across. At first, David thought it was a drill being conducted by the US naval base, but when he started hearing explosions and seeing smoke emanating from one of the battleships, he realized that something was seriously wrong.
Believing it was an attack by the Germans, the brave boy quickly returned Aki to his house, before rushing to look for his mother who was still at the naval hospital. The rest of the book is filled with lots of fast-paced action and numerous heart-stopping moments - some real, others a figment of the author's imagination - all of which, can be fully experienced only by reading the historical fiction adventure - I Survived: The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941!
Resources: I Survived The Bombing of Pearl Harbor,1941