National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2016
NATIONAL PEARL HARBOR REMEMBRANCE DAY, 2016
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Seventy-five years ago, Japanese fighter planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, destroying much of our Pacific Fleet and killing more than 2,400 Americans. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called on the Congress to declare war and “make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.” In that spirit, Americans came together to pay tribute to the victims, support the survivors, and shed the comforts of civilian life to serve in our military and fight for our Union. Each year on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor those whose lives were forever changed that December morning and resolve to uphold the legacy of all who stepped forward in our time of need.
From the docks of Pearl Harbor to the beaches of Normandy and far around the world, brave patriots served their country and defended the values that have sustained our Nation since its founding. They went to war for liberty and sacrificed more than most of us will ever know; they chased victory and defeated fascism, turning adversaries into allies and writing a new chapter in our history. Through their service and unparalleled devotion, they inspired a generation with their refusal to give in despite overwhelming odds. And as we reflect on the profound debt of gratitude we owe them for the freedoms we cherish, we are reminded of the everlasting responsibilities we have to one another and to our country.
In memory of all who lost their lives on December 7, 1941 — and those who responded by leaving their homes for the battlefields — we must ensure the sacrifices they made in the name of liberty and democracy were not made in vain. On this solemn anniversary, there can be no higher tribute to these American patriots than forging a united commitment to honor our troops and veterans, give them the support and care they deserve, and carry on their work of keeping our country strong and free.
The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2016, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this December 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
Especially in 2016, I think of this great, undersung painting by Normal Rockwell, “Election Day (1944)”:
Remember when people used to dress up to go to the polls?
In 1944 President Franklin Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented fourth term. Most Americans did not know it, but he was deathly ill at the time. He dropped Vice President Henry Wallace from his ticket — some argue it was a mutual disaffection at that time — and selected the relatively unknown young Missouri U.S. Sen. Harry S Truman for the vice president’s slot.
In November 1944, D-Day was known to be a successful invasion, and most Americans hoped for a relatively speedy end to World War II in both Europe and the Pacific. Within the next ten months, the nation would endure the last, futile, desperate and deadly gasp of the Third Reich in the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of Berlin in April 1945, and end of the war in the European Theatre on May 8; the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Philippines Campaign, and the bloody, crippling battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Pacific Theatre, and then the first use of atomic weapons in war, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and we hope, the last use).
Voters in Cedar Rapids could not have known that. They did not know that, regardless their vote for FDR or his Republican challenger, New York Gov. Thomas Dewey, Harry S Truman would be president within six months, nor that the entire world would change in August 1945.
This painting captures a time of spectacular moment, great naivity, and it pictures the way history got made.
Norman Rockwell: Fact & Fiction
September 12, 2009 – January 3, 2010
In 2007, the citizens of Cedar Rapids rallied together to purchase a series of watercolors destined for the auction block in New York. These five watercolors, by acclaimed 20th century American artist Norman Rockwell, depicted scenes associated with an election day and were created specifically for the November 4, 1944 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. To complete the Post commission, Rockwell traveled to a quintessential Midwestern town, Cedar Rapids, to study local citizens as models for his series of images.
In the 65 years since his visit, numerous anecdotes and stories have arisen about the artist’s time in Cedar Rapids and the creation of this work. This exhibition uses these five, newly conserved and restored watercolors and a related oil painting from the Norman Rockwell Museum, along with numerous photographs taken by local photographer Wes Panek for Rockwell, to investigate the many facts and fictions associated with Rockwell’s visit and this set of watercolors.
Norman Rockwell: Fact & Fiction has been made possible in part by Rockwell Collins, Candace Wong, and local “Friends of Norman Rockwell.” General exhibition and educational support has been provided by The Momentum Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.
Friends of Norman Rockwell: Wilma E. Shadle, Howard and Mary Ann Kucera, Jean Imoehl, Ben and Katie Blackstock, Marilyn Sippy, Chuck and Mary Ann Peters, Phyllis Barber, Ann Pickford, Anthony and Jo Satariano, Barbara A. Bloomhall, Virginia C. Rystrom, Jeff and Glenda Dixon, Robert F. & Janis L. Kazimour Charitable Lead Annuity Trust, Fred and Mary Horn, Mrs. Edna Lingo, John and Diana Robeson, Jewel M. Plumb, Carolyn Pigott Rosberg, Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Buchacek, Dan and Anne Pelc, Mary Brunkhorst, and John and Diana Robeson.
I am amused and intrigued that this scene also closely resembles the scene when I voted in Cheverly, Maryland, in 1984 — down to the dog in the picture. Oh, and most of the women didn’t wear dresses, none wore hats, and I was the only guy in the room with a tie.
Roosevelt won the 1944 election in an electoral college landslide, 432 to 99, but Dewey won Iowa, and we might assume Dewey won Cedar Rapids, too.
And that Truman guy? Rockwell came back to the topic of elections four years later, when Truman was running for election to the office he’d filled for nearly four years, with another classic, American election portrayal.
- ‘The Way Americans Like to Do It’: What Voting Looked Like in 1944 (theatlantic.com)
- Norman Rockwell photographs show technique behind the master (nydailynews.com)
- Record-Breaking Rockwell Exhibition to Open in Alabama (prweb.com)
- Poems for an American election day (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
- Cast Your Vinyl Vote On Election Day For Turntable Tuesday (wcbsfm.cbslocal.com)
- It’s Election Day! Go ‘Rock the Vote’ (khou.com)
- Norman Rockwell revival at Crocker (sfgate.com)
- Big Norman Rockwell art exhibit coming to Northern California (mercurynews.com)
- A Few Choice Words on Election Day 2011, blog of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota (poetry AND Rockwell)
It was a tragedy in 1941, but before the U.S. could develop a serious policy response to Germany’s action, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Within a week after that, our policy towards Germany was set by Germany’s declaration of war on the U.S.
It’s important history for a couple of reasons.
- The sinking was part of the massive, years-long Battle of the Atlantic, which the Allies won only by building ships faster than Germany could sink them. Had the Allies lost this battle, the war would have been lost, too.
- While the USS Reuben James was a Navy destroyer, the key weapons of the Battle of the Atlantic were Merchant Marine cargo ships, carrying goods and arms to Britain and other Allied nations. “Civilians” played a huge role in World War II, supplying the soldiers, armies, navies and air forces.
- Recently, politicians took to making claims that the U.S. declared war on Germany without any hostile action having passed between them, without Germany having perpetrated any hostilities toward the U.S. Look at the dates, it’s not so.
- Woody Guthrie wrote a song about the event, giving us a touchstone to remember.
Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub covered the event with longer, detailed articles in past years, including these, which you should see especially if you are a student in a history class or a teacher of one:
- “We remember: U.S.S. Reuben James sunk October 31, 1941”
- “Woody Guthrie’s ‘Sinking of the Reuben James'”
Europe has changed. The world has changed. The U.S. has changed. War has changed. We should remember, especially those people who died defending the merchants who defended the idea of the Four Freedoms.
Where did the ship get its name? From a Barbary War hero:
Reuben James was born in Delaware, Ohio about 1776. He joined the U.S. Navy and served on various ships, including the frigate USS CONSTELLATION. It was during the infamous Barbary Wars that the American frigate PHILADELPHIA was captured by the Barbary pirates. Having run aground in the pirate capital of Tripoli on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the crew had to abandon ship and formulate a plan of attack. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, along with a group of volunteers which included Boatswain’s Mate Reuben James, entered Tripoli harbor under the cover of darkness in an attempt to set the PHILADELPHIA to the torch so that the pirates could not make use of her.
The American volunteers boarded the PHILADELPHIA on 16 February 1804 and were met by a group of the savage Barbary pirates who were guarding their prize. A furious battle ensued, and during the bloody chaos of hand-to-hand combat, a villanous pirate made ready to end the life of Lieutenant Decatur. Reuben James, with both of his hands already wounded, in an act of selfless dedication and courage did throw his hand before the pirate’s cleaving blade! Willing to give his life in defense of his captain, Reuben James took the blow from the sword!
Having proved to the world over the courage and dedication of United States Sailors, Reuben James also hammered home the fact that US Sailors are undefeatable by not only surviving, but recovering from his wounds and continuing his career in the U.S. Navy! After spending many more years with Decatur, James was forced to retire in January 1836 because of declining health brought on because of past wounds. He died on 3 December 1838 at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C.
- Liveblogging World War II: October 31, 1941: The Torpedoing of the U.S.S. Reuben James (delong.typepad.com)
- This day in history for Oct. 31 (goerie.com)
- Divers locate Battle of the Atlantic lost shipwrecks from the Second World War (warhistoryonline.com)
- Book Review: Engineers of Victory, by Paul Kennedy (historynet.com)
A reminder to fly your U.S. flags tomorrow in honor of the U.S. Navy.
We celebrate Navy Day each year on October 27, one of the score of dates designated in the U.S. Flag Code to fly Old Glory.
Navy Day may be eclipsed by Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day in modern life, but it’s still in the law and the Navy still notes it.
So should we.
You get an idea of the celebrations from some of the old Navy Day posters. (If you can put a year on posters undesignated, please tell us in comments; if you know of a poster not shown here, please give a link in comments.)
It’s been 57 years since the youngest state entered the union — the longest stretch in which the U.S. has not added another state.
“On June 14, 1959, Boy Scout Milton Motooka helped get the word out for Hawaii’s statehood plebiscite to be held 13 days later. A new documentary will focus on Hawaii’s statehood.” Hawaiians voted yes in the plebiscite, and statehood was declared two months later. (Whatever became of Scout Motooka?)
June’s plebiscite smoothed the path for statehood, declared two months later.
Hawaii’s official statehood day is August 21, commemorating the day in 1959 when Hawaii was recognized as a member of the union of the United States of America. Hawaiians should fly their flags to day in honor of the date (you may, too).
Hawaii formally celebrates the day on the third Friday in August, this year on the 19th. I hope you joined in the festivities (it’s a holiday in Hawaii) — but under the U.S. Flag Code, you may certainly fly your flags on August 21, regardless which day of the week that is.
After the U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898 (in action separate from the Spanish-American War) attempts at getting Hawaii admitted as a state got rolling. After World War II, with the strategic importance of the islands firmly implanted in Americans’ minds, the project picked up some steam. Still, it was 14 years after the end of the war that agreements were worked out between the people of Hawaii, the Hawaiian royal family, Congress and the executive branch. The deal passed into law had to be ratified by a plebiscite among Hawaiian citizens. The proposition won approval with 94% of votes in favor.
Some native Hawaiian opposition to statehood arose later, and deference to those complaints has muted statehood celebrations in the 21st century.
Other than the tiny handful of loudmouth birthers, most Americans today are happy to have Hawaii as a state, the fifth richest in the U.S. by personal income. The nation has a lot of good and great beaches, but the idea of catching sun and surf in Hawaii on vacation might be considered an idealized part of the American dream.
“Loudmouth birthers?” Yeah, Barack Obama, our 45th President, was born in Hawaii in 1961. Some whiners think that, but for statehood, Obama would not have been a citizen eligible to be president. Hawaii is not good ground for growing sour grapes, though. Birth in a territory would probably be enough to make him eligible. Water under the bridge: Hawaii was a state in 1961. President Obama remains president.
- Lesson plans under Hawaii social studies standards
- U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, statement on Statehood Day, 2013
- Celebrating Hawaii’s Flag (pacificislandparks.com)
- Of course, there are those who claim Hawaii’s statehood is illegal
- Fly your flags on August 1 in Colorado: Statehood day (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
Another good reason to follow the National Archives on Twitter, Tumblr and other media: Great updates.
Like this one on the explosive arrival of the Atomic Age:
On July 16, 1945 the United States tested a nuclear device, code named “Trinity”, for the first time in White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico.
Above: [“Jumbo” atomic device being positioned for “Trinity” test at Alamogordo, New Mexico.], 1945
Below: [“Trinity” explosion], 07/16/1945
It’s astonishing to think anyone could hide the explosion today. Near the end of World War II, after Germany had surrendered to end the war in Europe, no one really knew just what at atomic explosion would look or sound like. The test occurred near dawn in a very desolate part of New Mexico’s southern desert, a then sparsely populated state. A few thousand may have seen the flash; a few hundred may have heard or felt the explosion. No one in government confirmed any report of a weapon.
- Gen. Leslie Grove’s memorandum describing the results of the test, at PBS’s American Experience site, history of President Harry Truman
- Trinity+67 Years: the Explosion of the First Atomic Bomb, Alamogordo, New Mexico, 1945 (longstreet.typepad.com)
- Trinity, July 16, 1945 (sandwalk.blogspot.com)
- July 16, 1945: Trinity Blast Opens Atomic Age (wired.com)
- Dinosaurs of the Atomic Age! (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- James B. Conant on Trinity (1945) (nuclearsecrecy.com)
- Weatherwatch: Mushroom-shaped clouds and their causes (guardian.co.uk)
- Nuclear Explosions – I am become Death [34 Pics] (amazfacts.com)
- History pamphlet given to visitors to the Trinity site
How many ways can we say happy birthday to a great scientist born on Pi Day? So, an encore post.
Happy Einstein Day! to us. Albert’s been dead since 1955 — sadly for us. Our celebrations now are more for our own satisfaction and curiosity, and to honor the great man — he’s beyond caring.
Almost fitting that he was born on π Day, no? I mean, is there an E=mc² Day?
Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in Ulm, Germany, to Hermann and Pauline Einstein.
26 years later, three days after his birthday, he sent off the paper on the photo-electric effect; that paper would win him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.
In that same year of 1905, he published three other papers, solving the mystery of Brownian motion, describing what became known as the Special Theory of Relativity and solving the mystery of why measurements of the light did not show any effects of motion as Maxwell had predicted, and a final paper that noted a particle emitting light energy loses mass. This final paper amused Einstein because it seemed so ludicrous in its logical extension that energy and matter are really the same stuff at some fundamental point, as expressed in the equation demonstrating an enormous amount of energy stored in atoms, E=mc².
Any one of the papers would have been a career-capper for any physicist. Einstein dashed them off in just a few months, forever changing the fields of physics. And, you noticed: Einstein did not win a Nobel for the Special Theory of Relativity, nor for E=mc². He won it for the photo electric effect. Irony in history.
106 years later Einstein’s work affects us every day. Relativity theory at some level I don’t understand makes possible the use Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which revolutionized navigation and mundane things like land surveying and microwave dish placement. Development of nuclear power both gives us hope for an energy-rich future, and gives us fear of nuclear war. Sometimes, even the hope of the energy rich future gives us fear, as we watch and hope nuclear engineers can control the piles in nuclear power plants damaged by earthquakes and tsunami in Japan.
If Albert Einstein was a genius at physics, he was more dedicated to pacifism. He resigned his German citizenship to avoid military conscription. His pacifism made the German Nazis nervous; Einstein fled Germany in the 1930s, eventually settling in the United States. In the U.S., he was persuaded by Leo Szilard to write to President Franklin Roosevelt to suggest the U.S. start a program to develop an atomic weapon, because Germany most certainly was doing exactly that. But while urging FDR to keep up with the Germans, Einstein refused to participate in the program himself, sticking to his pacifist views. Others could, and would, design and build atomic bombs. (Maybe it’s a virus among nuclear physicists — several of those working on the Manhattan Project were pacifists, and had great difficulty reconciling the idea that the weapon they worked on to beat Germany, was deployed on Japan, which did not have a nuclear weapons program.)
Einstein was a not-great father, and probably not a terribly faithful husband at first — though he did think to give his first wife, in the divorce settlement, a share of a Nobel Prize should he win it. Einstein was a good violinist, a competent sailor, an incompetent dresser, and a great character. His sister suffered a paralyzing stroke. For many months Albert spent hours a day reading to her the newspapers and books of the day, convinced that though mute and appearing unconscious, she would benefit from hearing the words. He said he did not hold to orthodox religions, but could there be a greater show of faith in human spirit?
When people hear clever sayings, but forget to whom the bon mots should be attributed, Einstein is one of about five candidates to whom all sorts of things are attributed, though he never said them. (Others include Lincoln, Jefferson, Mark Twain and Will Rogers). Einstein is the only scientist in that group. So, for example, we can be quite sure Einstein never claimed that compound interest was the best idea of the 20th century. This phenomenon is symbolic of the high regard people have for the man, even though so few understand what his work was, or meant.
A most interesting man. A most important body of work. He deserves more study and regard than he gets.
- American Institute of Physics (AIP) on-line exhibit on the life and work of Einstein — good stuff!
- Einstein’s biography at the Nobel Foundation website
- NPR’s Talk of the Nation show on Einstein’s birthday in 2005, featuring New York Times science correspondent Dennis Overbye, author of Einstein in Love
- Effect Measure at SciBlogs had a nice tribute today
- History Channel’s series, 10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America featured a film on the letter Einstein wrote to FDR, “Einstein’s Letter.” Here’s a teachers guide
- The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque will hold its 15th Annual Einstein Gala Dinner on March 17, at the Hotel Albuquerque; “Dr. Lisa Randall has been named the recipient of the 2012 National Award of Nuclear Science and History, which is presented annually by National Atomic Museum Foundation to a prominent person that has had an impact on nuclear issues.”
- How Einstein Proved the Size and Existence of Atoms [Video] (gizmodo.com)
- 11 Unserious Photos of Albert Einstein (mentalfloss.com)
- Happy Birthday Einstein (nextbigwhat.com)
- Einstein > π (mathjokes4mathyfolks.wordpress.com)
- Celebrating Einstein’s birthday on Pi Day (sciencelens.wordpress.com)
- Of course, there is Einstein on the Beach, “an opera in four acts (framed and connected by five ‘knee plays’ or intermezzos), scored by Philip Glass and directed by theatrical producer Robert Wilson.”
- 15 quotes from Einstein, on his birthday, from the Christian Science Monitor (these should be accurate, if we go by the reputation of this venerable old paper-gone-electric; however, the feature does NOT include citations . . . see any problems?
- New York Times article on Einstein’s death, April 18, 1955 (the paper is from April 19)
- HuffPo list of 10 facts about Einstein; accurate?
- Einstein’s desk and office in Princeton, New Jersey (no typewriter; can you find a telephone?)
- Quote of the moment: Einstein on nature’s secrecy