On This Date In History: On December 7, 1941 the Japanese Empire attacked the United States of America in a sneak attack on the naval and army installations in Hawaii. Some 2500 Americans lost their lives. I will spare the details of the “date that will live in infamy” but I will say that I think there are many who have forgotten or choose to ignore history. As we saw in September 2001, similar incidents are still possible. Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the event, had lived in the United States and knew of the nation’s industrial potential even though it had been mired in depression for the previous decade. He feared he had “awakened a sleeping giant and given him great resolve.” He was right. Ultimately, the attack resulted in the destruction of Japan. I do wonder though what it takes for this nation to have great resolve today. In 1945, the US and its allies eliminated the threat of further attacks by those who attacked us to ensure that they could not do it again.
In both 1941 and 2001, part of the blame was put on intelligence failures. Leading up to December 7, 1941 there were plenty of clues. One of which was on the bookshelves at the local library. Hector C. Bywater wrote The Great Pacific War in 1925. He was a British naval intelligence officer who spelled out exactly how the Japanese would go to war with the United States. Bywater said that Japan’s military ambition would be to conquer China and Korea in order to plunder those nation’s raw materials. He said in order to achieve the goal, Japan would first have to destroy or cripple the American forces in the Pacific. He said that it would go after strategic targets and thought that the US Naval base in Manila Bay would be the first target. That part wasn’t exactly right but the rest was on the money.
Now, as I mentioned, Isoroku Yamamoto had lived in the United States and, in fact, was living in Washington DC in 1925 when Bywater’s book was published. Yamamoto was working as a naval attache who was fluent in English and could not have missed the fact that the book was out because it was even reviewed by the New York Times. Beside that, The Great Pacific War and also a study Bywater had done in 1921 titled Sea Power and the Pacific were both available in Japan and both were circulated among Japanese military officers. In later years, Japanese military historian Mitsuo Fuchida said that both works were part of the curriculum at the Japanese Naval War College in 1936. Students at the war college were asked on an exam, “How would you attack Pearl Harbor?”
Americans had the answer. A widely publicized attack was launched during war games by US Admiral Harry Yarnell with an attack from aircraft carriers in 1932 in an exhibition designed to prove the vulnerability of Pearl Harbor to attack. No one can say for sure if this demonstration by Admiral Yarnell or the published work by Bywater influenced Yamamoto at all. He was a pretty smart guy and apparently everyone except those who were supposed to know knew the weaknesses of Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto never said because he was killed on April 18, 1943 when the plane he was in was targeted and shot down. That bit of intelligence was acted on by the United States. But had the folks in charge read the New York Times or visited their local library or recalled the demonstration put on by one of their own admirals, then perhaps the beginning of World War II might have been different and then who knows what might have happened had the initial attack on Pearl Harbor on this date in 1941 been unsuccessful. Just to add to the intrigue, Bywater died in London under mysterious circumstances in 1940, the year before Pearl Harbor was attacked.
On this date….a long long long time ago….when the dinosaurs ruled the earth, Mr. Steve Burgin was born. He has served Louisville honorably and admirably for many years and is known in local palentology circles as the Burginsaurus. While he may look like a carnivorous beast, in real life he’s a big teddy bear.
I’m going to tell a secret: He has helped many many young journalists fulfill their dreams of developing a successful career.
I’ll tell you another secret: I am proud and honored to be able to call Steve Burgin my friend. Over the years, he has been a great sounding board and has helped me from time to time. Like many people who have had the good fortune to work with him, I am a better person for having him as being part of the sum total of my life. Besides all that…he’s given me some good ties.
Steve Burgin is also a top shelf journalist and Louisville is lucky to have him. He is the first person from this area inducted into the Silver Circle of The Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Television Academy. That small fraternity is considered the “best of the best.” He’s also received the Edward R. Murrow Award and the Scripps Howard National Award for Investigative Reporting as well as several regional Emmy Awards and other honors. He even walked my mother down the aisle at my wedding! He may be a fossil but he’s our fossil and we should all be thankful to have this journalistic treasure in our midst. See, I have to tell people because the Burginsaurus is really quite shy. He’s really a quite friendly creature, just keep your hands and feet clear at feeding time.
Feel free to email Steve (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell him happy birthday. It would be a fine way to acknowledge his efforts to serve the community in so many ways…..besides that..the fire department has outlawed anymore birthday cakes for him due to the potential fire hazard..so warm greetings would be appreciated I’m sure.