Pearl Harbor

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The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1942, was an event, which led to the US direct involvement in World War II. It was a surprising and devastating attack on the American military ships in the harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii.

But what made Japan attack the harbor? In 1937, Japan invaded China as a part of its imperialist plans. Besides, the empire teamed up with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany when World War II. started in 1939. On the other hand, the USA supported China and the Allies in Europe. Hence, the relationship between the two countries was not ideal. For example, many trade deals and treaties broke down.

Japan planned to conquer the Pacific. Aware of this threat, the American diplomacy against the empire toughened. They set an embargo on many goods, including oil. Yet, negotiations between the two continued to achieve new deals.

Pearl Harbor
Burning USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor

The Surprise Attack on Pearl Harbor

Hence, the USA did not expect the possibility of a war with Japan. Yet, in the early hours of December 7th, 1941, everything changed. Japan was aware of the strong US navy. Thus, they decided to target the fleet stationed in Hawaii. It was a carefully planned attack with great focus on detail and surprise.

Early in the morning, 353 Japanese planes took off from their carriers. At around 8 AM, they struck the harbor. They caught the Americans by surprise with the air defense unprepared. Hence, Japan caused complete chaos. They sunk eighteen ships, including five battleships, destroyed 188 aircraft, killed 2,335 people, and wounded another 1143. For the luck of the USA, all of their air carriers were not in the harbor at the time. Hence, they were able to strike back when the USA joined the war.

A day later, in the US Congress, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt recited his famous “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” speech. As a result, the United States entered World War II. Besides, FDR also ordered a retaliation attack.

The most famous of the sunken ships was USS Arizona. Up to one thousand sailers were trapped inside when it went down. Today, it is a memorial of the largest attack on American territory, nearly as deadly as the attacks of September 11th.

pearl-harbor memorial
The memorial at the pace where USS Arizona sunk