Copyright© 2017 – Nicholas Hall
“God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful head we hold
Dominion over palm and pine-
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget.”
(Recessional , st. 1)
“The war was started as a result of a mistaken intuitive “calculation” which transcended mathematics. We believed with blind fervor that we could triumph over scientific weapons and tactics ….. The characteristic reliance on intuition by Japan blocked the objective cognition of the modern world.” Hasegawa Nyozekan
War raged in the Far East, where an aggressor nation, Japan, for whatever reason, ultra-nationalism, hegemony (territorial expansion), or a need to increase supplies and stores of vital raw materials such as iron, oil, or other minerals, was wreaking havoc on smaller, vulnerable nation states. Perhaps their victory on the continent against China previously or Russia emboldened the leaders! By September of 1940, Japan occupied Manchukuo up to the Amur River, part of the Chinese mainland, including the territory around Peiping, Tientsin, Nanking, Formosa, and the Chosen Peninsula and was anxious to expand its conquests even further.
England was embroiled in a brutal, killing, destructive war with German leaders seeking additional “living space” or Lebensraum and a burning desire to destroy the English people. Nazi led troop’s steamrolled over Europe, even after Neville Chamberlin declared, after his Munich meeting with Hitler, “peace in our time,” murdering, raping, pillaging, burning, and liquidating thousands upon thousands of people! Hitler believed he could bring England to her knees by destroying her from the air, reducing her cities, factories, and homes to rubble through his “Blitzkrieg!” London burned and England suffered; English soldiers and citizens died, and burned, but refused to succumb or surrender to the demands of a racist, genocidal, xenophobic, murdering tin-pot dictator! Instead, she steadfastly endured and would raise from the ashes, much like the mythical Phoenix.
The Mediterranean boiled with turmoil as the Italian Fascists under the leadership of the maniacal Mussolini intended on making the Mediterranean an Italian Sea. Little international uproar ensued when he invaded Ethiopia and conquered it, so he continued.
The “Sleeping Giant” wakened not!
There are those historians who would advance the proposition World War II really was World War I with a twenty year truce in between, while others would posit the cause was ultra-nationalism or out-right naked aggressive imperialism! Others would argue it began with the Treaty of Versailles! Perhaps all are correct, or wrong, or perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between.
One could further advance the proposal World War II just didn’t happen, but was the result of multi-faceted reasons; as noted above, ultra-nationalism; racial, social, and religious prejudice; or desire for domination by individuals through dictatorial tyranny!
It should be noted, of the three major aggressors (there were other minor aggressors allied with them), Japan, Italy, and Germany, only one person became ruler through monarchial ascension or heredity; the other two were brought to power and blessed in their actions by the electorate.
The “Sleeping Giant” winced and turned, restless in sleep!
The United States Congress and the American people were in a “non-interventionist” mood, coming out of a time of prohibition and the Great Depression, brought on by the collapse of the stock exchange and closure of banks, believing Europe’s problems should be solved by Europeans and the Far East was just simply too far away to be concerned with. After all, wasn’t the United States Pacific Fleet the strongest, the largest, and the best in that part of the world? What could a little country like Japan do? U.S. diplomatic intervention already crimped their oil supply; how could they fight without oil? There were those in the American military and intelligence services who felt differently.
Tension between the United States and Japan, along with Germany and Italy, continued to heighten! War seemed to be looming on the horizon, but where and when?
The world, as the United States knew it, changed in one day!
8 December 1941 address to Congress:
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese
Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has therefore
undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The
facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United
States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications
to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
This war, as referenced above, was to be a horrendous, devastating, life, and world changing cataclysmic event where cities, countries, military personnel, and civilians were slaughtered; one where the very structure of families, of governments, and societies were rendered asunder; and a way where the insidious, diabolical, insane, specter of genocide reared its ugly head and settled upon a people. It was estimated Hitler and his NSDP (National Socialist Democratic Party) murdered between six and eight million people of the Jewish Faith in Europe, over a million in 1941 alone! Hitler’s warning, made January 30, 1939 was blunt; he would bring about the total destruction of the “Jewish race” in Europe and came very close to completion of his warning!
The human casualties numbered in the millions killed or crippled, either in the actual fighting of the war or through “collateral damage” when their homes and countries were being bombed, caught in the middle of fighting, through starvation, despair by those who relinquished life believing there was little hope for the future, or as noted previously, genocidal acts!
But not all casualties of war were of these types or occurred in the conflict proper! There were those individuals who suffered the loss of a loved one, relatives, a friend, homes, and hope! There were those innocents orphaned or left with but one parent, tossed into a world where they had to learn to survive on their own or die! If those orphaned were lucky, there might be a relative who would take them in, feed them and give them a place to live.
Our story concerns a casualty of one war; one who lost both parents, home and place of residence, and friends! Transported to a land far away to live with people, although relatives, he’d never met, only seen pictures of, and in a place where snow and cold existed in the winter, a climate he’d never experienced.
For Robert (Chance) Avery Morgan, the war started December 7, 1941 shortly after 7:00am Hawaiian Time! President Roosevelt called it a “day that would live in infamy!” Chance viewed it as a day his world ended; a day of loss, a day which would lead to him being transported by ship, train, and pickup truck away to a distant homeland he knew only from the news, books, family photos sent through the mail, and to a future most uncertain filled with, as he thought it would be, sadness, loneliness, and fear!
The changes in his life affected not only him, but greatly impacted my life more than four decades later when I arrived in a new place, a stranger among those who’d known each other their entire lives, whose families reached back centuries, and, as one of the elders of the family community so eloquently stated, I “landed on a ship of patriots adrift in a sea of pirates.”
But, what war was it I became in embroiled in? Was it the war Chance noted changed his life forever? Was it the “Great War, the war to end all wars,” the one fought to a standstill and eventual peace in 1919; the “war” fought by persons during the “Great Depression” where people fought over food, land, homes, the simple right to live; was it the “war” fought by common people, criminals, religious groups, and tavern owners during “prohibition;” was it the war fought in Europe, the Far East, and Africa in the 1930’s; the “Korean Conflict” or the debacle in Vietnam; was it all of those little or major, devastating, life taking and country changing wars during the past decades that receive only a passing comment by historians; was it the ongoing war fought throughout the nation over civil rights, racism, homosexuality, immigration, liberalism versus conservatism, the right to be and speak as you are rather than the façade society seems to want to demand; perhaps the Cold War and the psychological terror instilled into people thinking at any time they could be blown to smithereens or ash by horrific bombs; or was it, World War II, the catalyst for all of these, culminating in this place, this time, my place, my time, my lover, our boys, and Morgan’s Landing altering my life forever?
Or is it a constant battle to win right over wrong, no matter what, while learning to survive in a hostile environment?
“The Leapling” is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental or used in a fictional content. (The term Leapling is a modern, colloquial term used to describe a person born February 29 of a leap year.)
The Literary works of Nicholas Hall are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America and are the property of the author.
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