The Kansas City Star published this editorial on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. At the time, The Star was an afternoon newspaper. That day’s morning edition, then known as The Kansas City Times, was the first paper published after the Sunday surprise attack.
Download a high-resolution copy of the Dec. 7, 2016, editorial page with historical microfilm images from the days following the attack here.
The “treacherous and unprovoked attack” by Japan, as Secretary Hull accurately called it, has accomplished one thing that outweighs the temporary Japanese successes. It has unified the people of the United States over night.
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Saturday many elements in the population were uncertain as to the national course. Sunday the course was charted for them and they closed ranks. If a few isolationist leaders still hold back they will be overwhelmed by the march of public opinion marching with events.
Everyone knows the United States government tried earnestly to arrive at a peaceful solution with Japan. Everyone knows that the Japanese used the cloak of peace negotiations to prepare for the unexpected blows at Hawaii and the Philippines. Everyone knows, too, that the war on the Orient is merely part and parcel of the war in Europe.
Japan is a partner with the Axis. It attacked undoubtedly in accordance with Axis plans. Without regard to our own wishes this country is in the European war just as it is in the war in Asia.
The results of yesterday’s engagements are a heavy jolt to complacency. We do not know the details. But it looks as if we were asleep at the switch in Hawaii, assuming that Japan could not strike 3,000 miles from home.
The lesson may be valuable if it teaches us that we confront dangerous and unscrupulous enemies on both sides of the world; that we cannot be complacent; that we cannot take anything for granted.
Now it must be full steam ahead in every department of the national life, in civilian as well as military activity. Confusion in handling production must be straightened out. The nation looks for well co-ordinated effort, no strikes, greatly increased output of munitions and every sort of war supplies. We must keep aid flowing over the Atlantic while we take care of our needs in the Pacific.
In beating Japan we must not forget that Hitler is the great enemy; that his defeat is essential. It is a gigantic job we face. A united America is equal to it!