Franklin Roosevelt’s speech asking Congress to declare war on Japan the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor lasted less than 8 minutes. It’s amazing how much he packs into that short amount of time. The dramatic pauses, repetition and arcane language (“dastardly”) worked for him. I don’t think anyone could get away with that now without sounding hokey.
If you’re a nerd and have the time, check out At Dawn We Slept, which is considered the best, most exhaustive account of the attack’s lead-up, execution and aftermath. If you’re lazy and want to fall asleep to an old war movie about the attack, there’s Tora! Tora! Tora!, an old 1970 flick that features a dude named “Mako” who would later star in “Conan the Barbarian” (and provides the voiceover in the prologue and epilogue).
In your exploration of the Pearl Harbor attack, if you want to be encumbered by things as inconvenient by facts, History Channel made an excellent documentary about the 24 hours after the attack.
Among the most depressing tidbits from this documentary: the thought of well-meaning welders frantically trying to cut through the hulls of the capsized ships to save trapped sailors on the bottom decks – and unknowingly sucking away the little remaining oxygen inside.
Among the most touching: FDR’s oldest son James taking care of his polio-stricken dad – picking up, sitting him up, etc. (depicted at 1:01). James, commissioned directly to the rank of Marine lieutenant colonel, had also been conveniently assigned as a Marine liaison in D.C.
When the war erupted, he requested a combat assignment and eventually found his way to be executive officer of the 2d Marine Raider Battalion. He was apparently a bit nebbish and benefited from his last name, but nobody’s perfect. Sometimes scions do everything they can plod down the road less traveled. This is one of the reasons why I like Prince Harry.
The other reason? He doesn’t take himself too seriously. Must be nice to be the third-in-line to the British throne. Actually, he’ll be demoted to fourth-in-line in nine months.