Myths About Pearl Harbor

March 05, 2017

December 7th, 1941 is one of the most notable and recognized dates in United States history. On the morning of what would have been just another monotonous winter day, Japanese attackers flew into Pearl Harbor and commenced a bombardment on the massive vessels in Battleship Row. Resulting in the deaths of over 2,400 servicemen and civilians, It was this event that pulled the America into World War II.

Despite being such a well-known day in history, there are still myths that revolve around the attack on Pearl Harbor. Since it is such an important day to remember, it only seems right to clear up some of these misconceptions.

Only Japanese People Were Detained

Japanese Interment Kids

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a strong anti-Japan sentiment coursed throughout the nation. Thinking that it was the best way to protect its people and to drum up further support for the war, the United States government created internment camps to house people of Japanese descent, even those with American citizenship.

What isn’t typically mentioned is that it wasn’t just Japanese civilians who suffered from America’s zealousness. While they did bear the brunt of it after the Pearl Harbor attack, during the course of World War II Germans and Italians were also targeted. Thousands were forced by the authorities to move away from sensitive areas of the US, and some were interned in Hawaii.

Americans Favored Entry in World War II

World War II consisted of two main theaters – the Pacific and European. After Pearl Harbor was attacked, many Americans changed their minds about the country's isolationism and refusal to enter combat., and made a 180-degree turn from their previous beliefs.

With the attack on Pearl Harbor fresh in their minds, Americans were suddenly in favor of entering the war in the Pacific to take on Japan. Though it was only a few days later that opinion changed, at first the country was still mostly against entering the European Theater. It wasn’t until Germany and Italy declared war on the United States on December 11th that popular opinion was swayed to supporting a full-scale entry into World War II.

The Opana Radar Station Message

Opana Radar Station Screen

What some believe happened on the morning of December 7th was negligence by Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. As the story goes, the Admiral received warning of the attack but refused to act upon it, essentially setting up the thousands in the harbor for a surprise attack.

The true story involves two privates—George Elliot and Joseph Lockard—who were manning the Opana Ridge radar station. When the two saw an unusually large blip on their radar screen, they made a call to Fort Shafter. Through their contact there, their concerns were relayed to Lt. Kermit Tyler. He advised Elliot and Lockard not to worry about it, since a group of B-17s flying in from the mainland was scheduled to land on Oahu that morning. Unfortunately, the lieutenant had every reason to assume the incoming blip was those bombers, having no reason to believe the Japanese would launch an attack.

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