Saturday, 7 December 2013

In Infamy

Yesterday, a day which now, will live amongst us for all time,
For history has changed its path
And we must fall in line.
For we at peace, with guarded arms, we chose to watch this from afar,
But we, deliberately attacked,
Must no more stand apart.

An Emperor, through wicked lies, convinced us of continued peace,
But sickening deceit was this,
As they slipped underneath.
For yesterday our countrymen were hunted down in harbour walls,
A naval fleet which, moored offshore,
Sent fighters to our pools.

Unprovoked and unprepared, our heavy losses were assured,
As battle ships became the graves
Of men within secured.
We scrambled a few dozen souls and got them to the skies again,
Though airfields were wiped from the map,
We took the fight to them.

We manned our guns, our boilers lit, we breathed those battleships to life
And fought against our enemy
Into the afterlife.
Relentlessly they sent their bombs, and struck the Arizona true.
She, mortally, took to her wounds
And sunk beneath the blue.

Yet still our bravest battled on, and clambered through her flooding shell,
Too quickly though she did succumb
And they soon lost as well.
One thousand men, one thousand souls, aboard that ship that fateful morn
But still their brethren stayed the fight
Until they too were torn.

But little could our heroes do when faced with such a secret pact,
Two-thousands souls were sent away
So now it's time to act.
I therefore ask, most verily, that Congress share in my abhor;
Against the empire of Japan,
Declare a state of war!

For yesterday, the 7th day, of this December, forty-one,
A declaration such as this
Came from the Rising Sun.
My kinsmen and my countrymen, respond to this atrocity
For this day now, and for all time
Will live in infamy. 

And let it live, remind us all, that abstinence from world affairs
Cannot assure security,
Nor reassure our cares.
But we are strong, and we are proud, and now we stand upon our might
And we will show them, air to air,
From sea to shore we'll fight!

Do not forget what happened here, in Pearl Harbour, upon this day,
In their honour we rise anew,
And join the global fray.
This land of opportunity, of hope and utmost bravery
Will stand once more with our brothers,
To vanquish tyranny.

Copyright © 2013 by Simon Austin

The USS Shaw explodes after a torpedo strike from Japanese planes ignites her forward magazine stores
Pearl Harbour - December 7th 1941
Pearl Harbour is a United States Naval base, situated on the island of Ohahu, Hawaii. On December 7th 1941, the harbour was subjected to an unprovoked and unexpected attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy, commencing at 7.48am.  Over the course of the attack, 2,402 Americans were killed, the majority of which (over a thousand men) were aboard the USS Arizona, when it was struck by a torpedo causing its magazine store to explode and quickly sink.  The majority of men killed were trapped within the hull when it sank, causing them to drown. 

The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day (December 8), the United States declared war on Japan, with previous reluctance of the American people to join the war all but vanishing after Pearl Harbour.  Germany and its allies quickly declared war on the U.S. also, which was reciprocated and the American entry in WWII sealed.

This poem is based on the speech given by President Roosevelt, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbour, now know as the 'Infamy Speech' - which has become one of the most famous speeches in world history.  The attack on Pearl Harbour also became one of the most important turning points in world history, extending the scale of WWII, opening the Pacific Theatre and ultimately, leading to the creation of the Atom bomb, which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 4 years later and bringing an end to the war and beginning the Cold War, which lasted until the collapse of the Soviet union 46 years later.