After 9/11, people constantly compared the devastating attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania to two things. One was countless terrorist attacks in movies, and the other was Pearl Harbor. 9/11 began the war on terror in America, or at least took it to another level. Pearl Harbor began World War II for America, and took it to another level around the world. 67 years later, Pearl Harbor Day is honored, as this anniversary fittingly comes on a Sunday.
It was on a Sunday, December 7, 1941 that the Pearl Harbor raid happened. World War II had already begun in Europe and Asia, with Japan already conquering its Asian rivals. When the United States increased aid to China and cut off trade with Japan, the empire moved to target the U.S.
Japan had to conquer new resources in Southeast Asia, but knew they would have to deal with the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii if they did. So Japanese admiral Yamamoto planned to use the element of surprise in a dramatic attack on Pearl Harbor.
Yamamoto’s plan to catch American forces completely off guard worked exactly as he had hoped. However, some conspiracy theorists still maintain that American forces didn’t see it coming because Franklin Roosevelt wanted Pearl Harbor to happen so he could declare war. Those type of theories are another thing that Pearl Harbor and 9/11 have in common.
Japanese planes arrived in Pearl Harbor at 7:00 Pacific Time on December 7. All of Pearl Harbor’s battleships were bombed or destroyed, with the most famous sinking that of the U.S.S. Arizona. To this day, hundreds of sailors on the Arizona still have their bodies trapped inside the sunken ship.
Pearl Harbor then became the rallying cry for America’s entry into WWII. Franklin Roosevelt’s famed speech on the next day got Congress to approve a declaration of war on Japan, as well as their Axis allies, Germany and Italy.
The U.S. would then strike back with their own raid on Japan, the Doolittle Raids, in 1942. Three years later came the two atomic bombs that finally caused Japan to surrender and end the war.
Pearl Harbor Day tributes happen every December 7, although there are fewer and fewer survivors left every year to take part. With survivors either dead, inactive or unwilling to endure the past anymore, Pearl Harbor Day has less people around to share their memories of the attack in person.
There will inevitably come the year when there are no more survivors left to talk to on Pearl Harbor Day. After that, every single person who lived and died on that day will be together once more.
The Boston Globe- “A day they’ll never forget” www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/12/07/a_day_theyll_never_forget/
Naval Historical Center- “Pearl Harbor Attack: Index of Action Reports” www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq66-1.htm