History

Remembering Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later

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Sunday morning, moments before 8:00 a.m. on December 7, 1941, the surprise attack from Japan struck the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on the Oahu Hawaiian Island. The attack on Pearl Harbor is noted as the one that changed the world. This year is the 75th anniversary of the devastating attack that marked a significant event in American history.

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The Attack
The first two waves of the attack were devastating because the Americans were caught completely by surprise. The USS Arizona was hit hard, and 1,177 of the 2,512-man crew were injured or died.  Many aircraft were damaged and over 150 were completely destroyed.  18 American ships were sunk or run aground in the raid; eight of which were battleships. 2,403 Americans lost their lives this day and approximately 1,200 others were injured.

The Japanese attacked from aircraft carriers that sent out fighters, torpedo, and bombers. The Pearl Harbor Navy base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese fighter planes, torpedo, and bomber aircraft. The USS Arizona, which had never fired its guns in battle, sank from the attack within 14 minutes after the attack began. Later, it emerged as the potent symbol for wartime in American and was not raised.

The Japanese suffered small losses from the raid. They lost 29 aircraft, five midget submarines, 64 servicemen were killed, and one sailor was captured. The strike came out of nowhere, so the troops were not prepared. There was no threat of a raid and no declaration of war prior to the invasion. While the attack did severely mar the U.S. naval and air strength, it did miss three aircraft carriers and the oil storage facilities in the area.

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Behind the Attack
It began from the Japanese-American rivalry in the Pacific.  Japan used the attack in an attempt to keep America from interfering with their military actions against the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and the U.S. At the time, Japan was viewed as a threat to the U.S. and European powers in Asia economically. By 1937, Japan was at war with China. President Franklin Roosevelt imposed economic sanctions on Japan, so they signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy in 1940. Events setting the stage for the coming attack.

Declarations of War
Extensive shock ran through America following the surprise attack. President Roosevelt declared the attack as a defining moment in American history and one that would live on in infamy. America entered World War II shortly after the assault. On December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. On December 11, three days later, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States along with Japan. The United States reciprocated their actions and became an interracial part of World War II.

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