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“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
Dwight David Eisenhower
Supreme Command of Allied Forces, 34th President of the United States

On this day seventy-five years ago, on a leisurely Sunday morning, shortly before 8 AM, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor naval installation, Schofield Barracks, and other military facilities on the island of Oahu.  President Franklin Roosevelt, in an address to  Congress the next day, describes that Sunday as  “A day that will live in infamy.”

More than 353 Japanese Imperial Navy torpedo and dive bombers reached Oahu.  Aided by midget submarines, the Japanese  destroyed or damaged all eight of the U.S. Navy’s prized battleship fleet, then considered the juggernaut to sea warfare.  Four sunk.  All but the USS Arizona (BB-39) were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer.  This was a devastating setback for the superior US naval defense deterrent in the Pacific.
170 aircraft were lost, 160 damaged.

More than 2,403 servicemen died, 1, 178 were injured.

Fortunately, the Navy’s Carrier fleet was at sea and they were spared. This fact changed the outcome of the war.

As this horror unfolded, Japanese Diplomats were waiting to meet with Sec. of State Cordell Hull. They were there to deliver a letter informing the United States they were ending negotiations concerning Japan’s quest to acquire more territory and valuable natural resources necessary to sustain their imperial expansion.

The attacked on Pearl occurred before they could meet with the Secretary and at least ten hours before Japan issued a formal Declaration of War against the United States.

Previously, after the Japanese had invaded French Indochina — a country now called Vietnam — the US, Great Britain and The Netherlands imposed a total embargo of all oil and scrap metal shipments to the Japanese.  The Japanese estimated they had only enough oil in reserve to last for two years, hence the urgency to launch the surprise attack.

The Japanese Admiral Isoroku (IS SO RO KU) Yamamoto planned the attack  based on a successful British attack using carrier-based aircraft to provide aerial fire power on the Italian Navy at Taranto.

Admiral Yamamoto, educated in the US,  bitterly opposed the attack because he knew the Americans, with a larger military force and access to an abundance of natural resources, in the end could not be defeated.  But he was overruled by those who argued that by inflicting heavy damage on the American fleet, and by fortifying territorial conquests in the Pacific, the Americans would not have the will to respond.

What those in favor of the attack on Pearl did not know or understand — and  what Admiral Yamamoto correctly believed — was the such a surprise attack would awaken a slumbering giant.

Prior to this moment on Sunday morning, the US was resistant to entering the war with Germany.  We were comfortable.  We did not want to deal with the historical rivalries of Europe, even to the point of ignoring the German genocide of Jews in concentration camps.  That is until we couldn’t.  The Japanese attack change the geopolitical construct, it shifted public opinion.  The Japanese awakened the slumbering giant.

What began in Pearl Harbor, and quickly spread to Europe and Africa, was a war of such magnitude that before it was over more than 3 percent of the world’s population — 60 million people — were killed.

From this epic struggle came some of the great leaders of our time:  Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Texas native who grew up in Kansas and went on to become the 34th president of the United States; General George Patton;  General George C. Marshall who developed the Marshall plan to rebuild Europe;  General Douglas McArthur and General Omar Bradley.

It was General Eisenhower, Ike as he was known to his close associates, who said:

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

His subsequent leadership skills in the world of politics resulted in many advances in our way of life including the creation of the Interstate Highway System, one of the major contributors to our economic growth.

From these dark days of war across the globe, other amazing leaders emerged including, Sir Winston Churchill and King George.

So, it is ironic that from the brutality and devastation of a global war where countries, communities and families were devastated, great leaders and great leadership values emerged.

As I previously reported in my blog, a study funded by the W.T. Grant department stores clearly demonstrated that the best military leaders, those officers who grew up in homes where great love existed, were the best and most respected military officers.  Those who could impart that great love from their mothers and fathers to their men, their comrades in arms were much more successful than those officers who did not have that quality.

Yes, certainly there were military leaders then, just as there are business leaders today, who fall outside the norm of that W.T Grant/Harvard  study, but  few rise to the class of trusted and beloved leaders.

This surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago today changed our nation forever.  And it changed our perspective on leadership as well.

Following that surprise attack, our nation made an unprecedented, collective sacrifice that in today’s environment seems hard to fathom.

There is much  to be learned about the collective and personal sacrifices made following this surprise attack — those who failed in their leadership mission and those who inspired their troops to greater success.

Inspirational leadership in times of crisis is what legends are made of.