December 7, 1941, is a day that has lived in infamy. At 7:55 a.m., Pearl Harbor was attacked by 350 Japanese warplanes, bringing the United States into World War II. The sneak attack by the Japanese was intended to cripple the Pacific Fleet of the United States and make sure the United States was unable to perform any large scale military naval action in the Pacific.
President Roosevelt and other government officials knew that a potential attack by the Japanese could happen. The United States was keeping a close eye on the expansion of the Japanese military. The United States was not invested militarily in World War II at the time, but wanted to send a message to Japan. Roosevelt ordered the Pacific Fleet to relocate from San Diego to Hawaii. The United States also built up their military in the Philippines. The United States and Japan began negotiations to ease the tension that was building between the two nations. None of the proposals were ever agreed to.
Roosevelt did not have enough intelligence to believe that any part of the United States was going to face an imminent threat. No extra security measures were put in place to deter any form of aggression from Japan. At 7:02 a.m., radar operators saw a large group of military planes coming toward Pearl Harbor. No one took this as an invasion since the base was expecting a group of B-17s. Everyone stationed at Pearl Harbor was caught by surprise.
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) December 8, 2015
By the time the attack was over, 2,400 people were killed and 1,200 injured. The Japanese attack destroyed a total of 15 ships and over 200 planes. Japan’s losses were nothing in comparison to the losses of the U.S. Japan lost 30 airplanes, 5 submarines, and around 100 lives. Luckily, the United States had three aircraft carriers out on training missions and were spared from the destruction of Pearl Harbor. These three large carriers were main targets of the Japanese.
— Billy Goldfeder (@BillyGoldfeder) December 7, 2015
On December 8, 1941, a joint session of Congress met while President Roosevelt addressed them on what happened at Pearl Harbor and asked them for a formal declaration of war. The war declaration against Japan passed Congress overwhelmingly with a vote of 470 to 1. The only person to vote against the resolution was democrat Jeannette Rankin. Rankin also voted against the declaration of war when the United States entered World War I.
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
On December 11, 1941, war was declared on the United States by Italy and Germany. The United States did the same and was officially involved in World War II. Historians agree that the United States being in the war is what sealed the victory against the Axis powers. In Japan, the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were victims to a new weapon of war, one that altered the future forever. The United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan, forcing them to surrender and bring an end to World War II.
With the events at Pearl Harbor being the catalyst that brought the United States into World War II, conspiracy theories run rampant that the United States let the attack on Pearl Harbor happen. World War I was still fresh in the minds of people in the United States. The government was not going to be able to convince the public to enter into another war and risk the lives of Americans. The attack on Pearl Harbor made it easy for Americans to want to go back to war, to protect their homeland and rid evil from the Earth.
Did President Roosevelt and other government officials know that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor?
[Image via U.S. Navy/Department of Defense]