This December 7 will mark the 80th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that catapulted this country into World War II.
More than 2,400 died in the surprise attack, including service members and civilians. Sixteen U.S. battleships, cruisers and other warships were sunk or disabled. Numerous aircraft were damaged or destroyed.
The attack shocked Americans and accelerated the worldwide war to the next level. By the following day, the United States had declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy, and they had done likewise.
Since then, historians and survivors have debated how much of a surprise the strike was, whether it could have been avoided, and whether the Navy’s Pacific fleet could have been better prepared. After all, tensions between the U.S. and Japan had been building for years. But most Americans at the time saw the attack as a call to arms. Even those previously opposed to joining the war cooled their anti-war rhetoric. Such an assault could not go unanswered, they reasoned. All other concerns were put on hold.
For the everyday fictional heroes of my novel, newlyweds Walt and Nora Baran, the effects of Pearl Harbor felt personal. Walt, a reluctant soldier, knew time in the Army could stretch into years. He feared having to carry a gun and using it to kill. Nora feared for husband’s safety and wondered how she would support herself. Ultimately separated by thousands of miles, they wrote letters to each other that took weeks to arrive and often disguised their truth.
They were not alone. Average Americans sacrificed greatly during the war. They were separated from their loved ones, gave up good jobs and scrimped on scant supplies. More than 405,000 died in the war. In SECRET BATTLES, I hope to honor the sacrifices of America’s everyday heroes, even those far from the front lines.
This year, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans will commemorate the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor with over 80 days of articles, oral histories, artifacts, videos and more. I was fortunate to have once visited this museum and highly recommend it. If you can’t get to New Orleans, check out the museum’s web site at www.nationalww2museum.org.