At a time when the public mood was at its lowest ebb ever, after the overwhelming defeat at Pearl Harbor - or, actually, the sneak attack on our Pacific Fleet that caught us totally unprepared, we desperately needed something to restore some semblance of hope to come...
At a time when the public mood was at its lowest ebb ever, after the overwhelming defeat at Pearl Harbor - or, actually, the sneak attack on our Pacific Fleet that caught us totally unprepared, we desperately needed something to restore some semblance of hope to come forth.
The Japanese had just sucker-punched us, and annihilated over 2400 of our soldiers and sailors, and, with the exception of our aircraft carriers, which just happened to be on other missions at the time, totally wiped out our entire Pacific Fleet.
Added to the fact that the Japanese were simply steam-rolling us every day and at every turn, the feeling of doom was settling deep into the national psyche.
We were still reeling from the very idea of Japan, a tiny island nation, having the audacity to take on and actually attack, with an attitude of certain victory, a huge nation like the U.S.A.
We just hadn''t had time to get our thinking in order and wake up to the fact that these people were very serious, and we had better get equally serious about beating them.
The idea of transporting land-based bombers by aircraft carrier to within striking distance of Japan, and then after the strike, since they were not equipped to return to the carrier for landing, having them fly on to land in China, was a brilliant stroke of retribution.
I don''t know if President Roosevelt thought it up himself, but he was certainly 100% behind it, and the spark was lit to pull out all the stops and give the Japanese a taste of their own medicine.
The idea of retaliating with an "eye for an eye," when the Japanese very smugly felt that there was nothing we could do, went a long way toward restoring our self-confidence and striking fear in the hearts of our tormentors, with the definite implication that there was more to come, and that it would be much worse.
And that proved to be exactly what happened.
The curious part of the whole thing was that they didn''t find it difficult to travel, in strength, to seek out and attack Pearl Harbor, but for some reason felt that we wouldn''t be able to find them to give them tit for tat when the opportunity presented itself.
But unlike an aircraft carrier, an island can''t perform evasive maneuvers.
The warlords of Japan made it even harder for themselves than it needed to be, by declaring that they would fight to the last man and never give an inch, which gave us no choice but to resort to taking them at their word, and proceed to wipe out the last man, if that''s what they insisted on.
But as it transpired, the fact that they utilized the aircraft carrier to carry out their devastation only hastened the demise of the battleship and brought forth the era of the carrier - and with it the stupendous rush of inventiveness, in one after another new plane designs, each one outdoing the one that went before.
By a fluke, our meager collection of rudimentary aircraft carriers escaped the surprise attack, and pulled the greatest upset in naval history in our devastating victory at Midway.
Our battleships were history, and so we replaced them with bigger and newer and more modern aircraft carriers, and once the party started, we just kept it going until it culminated in the complete devastation of Japan.
Even without the atomic bomb, we fire-bombed so much of Japan that whole cities were virtually leveled, and still they insisted on continuing the war.
The difference was that the atomic bomb was so totally devastating, they could but wonder what would happen next.
If they only knew - we had virtually shot our wad, and didn''t have any more bombs to drop.
Truly a perfect example of reaping what you have sown.