U.S.S.Arizona Memorial, courtesy of the History Channel
A lot has been written in the 75 years after the surprise attack on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. Quite a bit of the information we are aware of today seemingly indicates that President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the War Department had strong inclinations and military intelligence that indicated that an attack on Pearl Harbor was not just likely but imminent. In our contemporary American society, we remember Pearl Harbor almost as an ancient relic of American military history but such a nostalgic and glazed eyes view of the realities of what happened on December 7, 1941 is symptomatic of a nation that is destined to allow such an atrocity to occur again. The surprise attack of the Japanese military in 1941 was the largest loss of life on American soil until the tragic events of 9/11. Both tragic events indeed echo the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as (to paraphrase,) “days that will live in infamy!” The attack on Pearl Harbor and the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 are similar in their preparations, both were surprise attacks. Both resulted in catastrophic loss of human life and both events precipitated entry of the United States into an active state of war. Pearl Harbor was the fuse that ignited the entry of the United States into the Second World War from 1941-1945. The attack on the World Trade Center ushered America into a global war on international terrorism in 2001 and we are currently still engaged in this fight against radical Islamic terrorism.
Both Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001 transformed the United States into a nation determined to restore peace and harmony in a world from which both peace and harmony had been violently ripped from Americans daily lives. Pearl Harbor launched the United States into the Second World War against both Nazi atrocities against humanity and similar acts of inhumanity launched by Japan’s desire for imperial expansionism. Many lives were lost in the conflicts of the Second World War in combat and as collateral causalities of men and women through no fault of their own were victims of unspeakable crimes against humanity by both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
Seemingly, historians now write that the events of Pearl Harbor might have been averted had the men responsible for the security and defense of Pearl Harbor been provided with proper military intelligence. Admiral Husband Kimmel and Lt. General Walter Short were accused by the Roberts Committee of gross neglect and dereliction of their duties. As a direct result of these hastily convened hearings, both officers were reduced in rank and forced from the military because of the events of Pearl Harbor. Both men were blamed for allowing the attacks on Pearl Harbor despite the fact they were denied critical military intelligence that would have permitted them to reinforce Pearl Harbor and possible avert the catastrophe of December 7th.
In May of 1999, the United States Senate exonerated both Kimmel and short of any charges of derelictions of duties and affirmed they were both denied vital intelligence that was available in Washington. The Department of Defense spending Bill of 1999, with the endorsement of the entire Congress was submitted to President Clinton and the legislation urged him to restore both Kimmel and Short to their respective full military ranks, but he never acted on the recommendation from Congress. Every subsequent President of the United States has also avoided the issue and rejected continued requests to exonerate Admiral Kimmel and Lt. General Short and restore them to per-December 7th ranks.
After 75 years, it is time for either President Obama or President-elect Trump to appropriately restore the honor of these two men and restore them to their appropriate military ranks. Admiral Kimmel was a full admiral, with four stars. General Short was a Lieutenant General with three stars. Restoration of their ranks would close a painful chapter in the inequities of history that affected the lives of both two great military men. Most importantly, it would correct an erroneous judgement against them that both men took with them to their graves. Inequities and injustices that were hastily placed on not just these men, but many others during the Second World War need closure. The restoration of the proper ranks to both Kimmel and Short would not just exonerate them but would restore American greatness as not just a nation, but as an advocate for the truth. Isn’t the truth regarding the historical realities of Pearl Harbor what we all have been searching for since that fateful day that changed not just the United States but the entire world.
President Jimmy Carter during his administration pardoned all the Americans that fled to Canada to avoid the draft and military service in Vietnam. President Carter pardoned almost 210,000 men who fled to Canada and other destinations to avoid the draft and military service on January 21, 1977. It was his first day in office as President. Another 360,000 men were also given a blanket pardon, but were never formally charged with dereliction of duties and avoiding the draft. These men, intentionally broke Federal laws and fled the country to avoid military service.
It seems that both Kimmel and Short deserve restoration of their appropriate ranks because they indeed were faithful military men, patriots and guardians of American democracy that were victims of political treachery and intentional deceit intended to draw the United States into World War II.
President Obama while you are issuing pardons for convicted criminals before the end of your tenure in the White House please restore Admiral Kimmel and Lt. General Short to their respective ranks and restore their honor in defense of their country on the precipice of war.
President-elect Trump, if former President Obama on January 20th, 2017 has not restored the rank and dignity to these two great American military men who did everything in their military careers to make and keep America great, restore them to their appropriate military ranks not just in charity but as a just act of a President of the United States committed to restore America’s greatness. Such greatness existed with both Admiral Kimmel and Lt. General Short, part of the, “Greatest Generation,” who were victims of deceitful events and activities that hindered their abilities to properly defend Pearl Harbor.
America is great because it acknowledges and corrects injustices and inequities. Let’s keep the greatness alive 75 years after the injustices imposed on Kimmel and Short.