The Japanese wanted to destroy the American Pacific fleet so that they
could conquer islands in the Pacific without any obstacles in their way.
On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m., Japan launched a
surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Many soldiers had permission to go off base to
attend religious services. The base was left relatively undefended, and an easy
target for the Japanese.
At 8:10, the battleship USS Arizona had been bombed.
The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 men trapped inside. Next, torpedoes
hit the battleship USS Oklahoma. With 400 sailors aboard, the Oklahoma lost
her balance, rolled onto her side, and sunk. All the battleships in the harbor
took large amounts of damage. Luckily, the three aircraft carriers of the
Pacific Fleet were away from the base when the attack happened.
The oil storage depots,
submarine docks, and repair shops were not damaged in the ferocious attack.
This was very important because the Americans repaired their fleet and had fuel
The American Navy and Air Force were attacked by the air and naval
forces of Japan.
were shocked because they had been taken by surprise; everything seemed unreal.
They were scared to see a “cloud” of 360 Japanese warplanes. People were
angered with their military and political leaders because they knew that a
Japanese attack was possible anytime, but did nothing to increase the security
on the naval base.
The naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan destroyed more than 200
airplanes, five battleships, and three destroyers. In an attack that lasted only
1 hour and 15 minutes 2,403 lives were lost and 1,200 people were wounded.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt condemned
the attack and said that December 7, 1941, was “a date which will live in infamy.” He asked the Congress to approve
a resolution to declare war on Japan. Within one hour, and with almost unanimous
support from the House of Representative and the Senate, President Roosevelt
had the declaration of war. The one
person who voted against going to war was Jeannette Rankin. She explained “As
a woman, I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.”
The bombing of Pearl Harbor is
what made the United States enter War World II.