The morning of December 7, 1941, was “a date that will live in infamy.” These famous words were spoken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a speech to Congress the day after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor's military base.
The sun was shining on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, that December morning. Those on the tropical island woke up to a clear day just like any other. But at 7:53 AM the entire atmosphere shifted—the first wave of planes, which were launched from 274 miles away, hit and the earth shook.
The devastation was immediate. The second wave of attack planes hit nearly one hour later—at 8:55 AM. Another jarring shock was the forerunner of grief.
By 9:55 AM the attacks were over; however, the destruction, chaos, and enormity of them had only begun.
Left behind in the billowing smoke were 2,403 lost lives, 188 demolished planes, and 8 damaged (or completely destroyed) battleships of the United States Pacific Fleet.
In an instant, a divided America became united in the decision to join World War II.
8 years earlier: 1933
Now, we can look back at the WWII timeline and witness—almost as if history were unfolding in slow motion—how the thirst for pride and power was sparked in January 1933 when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.
The unhinged mind-set of the influential dictator gained momentum after the Nazis burned the Reichstag building—the seat of the German government—to promote their own agenda by creating a crisis atmosphere among the people of Germany.
With what seemed to be a threat to safety on the horizon for the country, Hitler appeared to jump in and “save the day,” but in reality, it was a ploy to infiltrate a nation from the inside out.
To us today, when we read the events that followed Hitler’s inauguration, it is gruesome and unfathomable. But how blind we can be during our given time in history…
Look how quickly hate and anti-Semitism spread after Hitler became Chancellor on January 30, 1933…
- March 22, 1933 – Nazis began opening concentration camps throughout Germany—first Dachau near Munich, second Buchenwald near Weimar, next Sachsenhausen near Berlin, and then Ravensbrück for women north of Berlin.
- March 24, 1933 – German parliament passed the Enabling Act, giving Hitler dictatorial powers.
- April 1, 1933 – Nazis incited crowds of people to boycott Jewish-owned business and shops.
Feeling hungry for power and opting to follow suit, Mussolini and Hirohito began their invasions of nations within a short time.
4 years later: 1937
The United States, through all of its attempts, could not put in limits to stop the spread of war.
On October 5, 1937, President Roosevelt responded to Japan’s invasion of China by calling for the Allied forces to come together to “quarantine” the aggressors in order to protect the world from the “disease” of war.
Only a few months later, Hitler announced his support of Japan. Over the course of the next several years, the Nazi regime began seizing and taking control of nations with a high Jewish population such as…
- Czechoslovakia (Jewish pop. 350,000) on March 15, 1939
- Poland (Jewish pop. 3.35 million, the largest in Europe) on September 1, 1939
- France (Jewish pop. 350,000), Holland (Jewish pop. 140,000), and Luxembourg (Jewish pop. 3,500) on May 10, 1940
Concentration camps began to grow, and torturous killings were becoming horrifically common. All the while, the United States was dealing with pressure to get involved in the war. Providing aid to the Allies was the answer at the time, but as we can see now, in order for the manic villainy to cease, the most powerful nation in the world had to take action.
The Axis nations joined together as flames join with flames, and the fiery destruction would continue to spread out of control if it wasn’t dealt with quickly. There was no way of knowing the devastation that would follow that pivotal moment on January 30, 1933.
4 years later: 1941
As the year 1941 began, tragedy across the globe spread. Hitler and Mussolini joined forces and attacked Yugoslavia, Greece, and the island of Crete. Hitler attacked Russia, pogroms were established, and thousands of Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, Hirohito—who had the support of Hitler and was waging war against China—was making plans of how and when to attack the United States.
Another pivotal moment in history occurred—the attack on Pearl Harbor forced the United States to take action.
What can we learn from tragedy?
History teaches us to learn from our past, be aware of what is happening in the present, and use discernment and wisdom to structure our path and execute our plans for the future.
Hindsight is always 20/20. There are many lessons we can gather from history. In this case, we can see…
- The powerful influence the United States had and continues to have on the world.
- When we look past all the battles, there was one common enemy who created colossal chaos behind the scenes and acted as the puppeteer pulling the strings—evil that manifested as power, pride, and “every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (see 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).
- “With great power comes great responsibility.”—Voltaire
We have all heard the famous quote, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In this season, it is crucial not to forget. For when we forget—or choose to dismiss or minimize history—it is an open invitation for evil to come in.
As the most powerful nation in the world, we have a responsibility to align with truth for our own protection as well as for the protection of others.
The Jewish people are God’s chosen. It was for this reason that they, as a nation, were not destroyed. The Bible says that Israel will be restored (see Jeremiah 30:3). When we look to the past to better understand our future, we see a clear path that leads to triumph when we choose to support, love, and encourage the Jewish nation.
No one knows the detail of what the future holds, but we do know how it will end—evil will be thrown into the lake of fire and destroyed forever (see Revelation 20:10). In the meantime, let us put on our armor and be wise with our decisions.
God does make promises for those who… “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces’” (see Psalm 122:6-7).
May we all remember this day, honor the lives of those who were lost, and look forward to the peace that will come.
We encourage you to read more [HERE] about the precious lives who suffered greatly,—so that we do not ever forget.