Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
We resolve that our strength, our vigilance, and our devotion will forever keep America the land of the free and the home of the brave. We resolve that we will keep faith with those we have loved and lost. And we resolve that, always, we will remember Pearl Harbor. - Ronald ReaganProclamation 5751 – National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7, 1987
Seventy years ago, on December 7, 1941, at 7:55 in the morning the Japanese began an air attack on the US Navy Base at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.
More than one hundred Japanese airplanes dropped incendiary bombs or fired torpedoes at the unsuspecting port city and the naval base in a first wave of attack that lasted about 35 minutes. Newspapers reported later that untold damage has been done to the Pacific Fleet.
A second strike occurred at 9:00 and lasted for about an hour.
The entire naval base and the Hickam Army Airfield Field have been destroyed by 353 planes that took off from six Japanese aircraft carriers. 2, 390 American men, women and children perished and more than one thousand were wounded that fateful Sunday morning in a surprise attack which was planned as a measure to neutralize the US Pacific Fleet and prevent American military intervention in South East Asia.
The news of that savage air raids came as a shock not only to the people in Hawaii. The members of Congress were outraged because the attacks occurred without any formal declaration of war by Japan at a time when the Japanese officials were still negotiating with the US Secretary of State Cordell Hull on lifting US sanctions that were imposed on Japan after continuing Japanese aggression against China.
On December 8, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his "Day of Infamy" speech to a joint session of Congress and via radio, to the entire Nation. Immediately afterward, the Congress declared war on Japan.
The Japanese declaration of war on the United States and the British Empire, which was published in Japan on December 8 on front pages of all Japanese newspapers, reached the American government hours after the attack.
Although the American relations with Japan were deteriorating rapidly, the Pearl Harbor attack came as a surprise. It changed the flow of history and precipitated American entry into World War II.
By Dominique Allmon ©2011