Sixty-nine years ago today, Japan bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i, prompting the United States government to declare war on Japan, thus entering the U.S. into World War II.
Americans know it as the “date which will live in infamy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it just a day after the attack. On the morning of December 7, 1941, a fleet of Japanese war planes successfully launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base. There are several factors that characterize the attack and distinguish it from other wartime events in American history, one of which is the attack’s element of surprise. While the U.S. and Japan’s relationship had been getting more and more contentious as the war in Europe waged on, the U.S. did not think a Japanese attack on American soil was probable. Hawai’i and Japan are 4,000 miles apart, and there were several European colonies much closer to Japan in the South Pacific.
The attack was also a huge military success for Japan. While the attack killed 2,400 Americans, the Japanese lost fewer than 100 men. Finally, Pearl Harbor remained the last major foreign attack on U.S. soil until the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001.
To learn more about Pearl Harbor and World War II, check out the resources below.
The History Channel website has a fantastic interactive with lots of resources about WWII. Learn about Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans during WWII, where German Jews fled to before the war, and the atomic bomb in Japan.
National Geographic also has several great resources on their “Remembering Pearl Harbor” page. The interactive multimedia map and timeline allow you to move from one of the infamous morning’s events to the next, learning about each event and seeing where they occurred – on and around the island of Oahu.