December 7, 1941
An ordinary Sunday morning turned into a bloodbath when American troops stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii were attacked without warning by the Imperial Japanese Navy on December 7, 1941.
In two horrific waves of attacks, 353 Japanese fighter planes, torpedo planes, and bombers launched from six massive aircraft carriers and assaulted the American naval base at 7:48 a.m., damaging eight U.S. Navy battleships and sinking four. The Japanese squadron obliterated three destroyers, three cruisers, one minelayer, and an anti-aircraft training ship.
Watch This Rare Color Footage Of The Pearl Harbor Attack
More than 2,000 American soldiers died in the battle, and 1,178 were reported wounded in the two-hour strike. Since it all happened without warning or declaration of war, the attack on Pearl Harbor was later on declared in the Tokyo Trials to be a war crime.
U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it “a date which will live in infamy” in the speech he delivered the day following the attack.
December 7, 1941: “A day that will live in infamy.” President Roosevelt signs the declaration of war against Japan. pic.twitter.com/LzkszBiMRe
— winocour law (@goodtexaslawyer) December 7, 2015
December 8, 1941
The surprise attack pushed the United States to enter the World War II arena. Japan, which was expanding its influence in Southeast Asia at the time, meant for the attack to stop the U.S. Pacific Fleet from meddling with military actions that Japan had laid out for the region. Japan’s pursuit to conquer Malaya (Malaysian Peninsula) and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) countries were rooted in its desire to take hold of the territories, which were rich in rubber and oil.
On December 8, 1941, the U.S. declared war on Japan with the acquired support of the United Kingdom. This led to Germany and Italy’s declaration to wage war on the U.S. on December 11, thereby initiating World War II.
In 1945, the United States retaliated by dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
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Prior to the Japanese bombing on Pearl Harbor, Japan and the U.S. maintained a strained relationship that was plagued with distrust and constant power struggle.
Throughout 1940 and 1941, the U.S. engaged in oil export negotiations with Japan in an attempt to improve the relationship between the two countries. As the Roosevelt government imposed stricter trade restrictions on Japan that prevented them from importing airplanes, aviation gasoline, steel, and other machine tools, the Imperial government turned to French Indochina’s natural resources and occupied the region. Japan started to extend its power to China, Dutch East Indies, Malaya, and other neighboring countries.
On November 20, 1941, Japan offered to pull out their military forces from Southern Indochina and not to instigate any attack in the Southeast Asian Region if the U.S., U.K., and the Netherlands – three powerful countries that held territories in Asia – would stop meddling in their military affairs in China and lift their respective governments’ sanctions against Japan.
On November 26, the U.S. made a counter-proposal, calling for the evacuation of Japanese troops from China without conditions and end a non-aggressive treaty with Pacific powers. However, on that day before the note was sent, the Japanese Imperial Army left for Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor Memorial
On Monday, exactly 74 years since the bombing on Pearl Harbor, a number of veteran soldiers came together at the site where World War II began to commemorate their comrades who died in the surprise attack.
— GMA News (@gmanews) December 8, 2015
More than 3,000 people came to join the veteran soldiers in a ceremony hosted by the U.S. Navy, together with the national Park Service at a Navy pier where the USS Arizona Memorial was stationed.
— USS Arizona (@USSArizona) December 7, 2015
The USS Arizona was one of the ships that were sent aground by Japanese squadrons. Ninety-four-year-old war veteran Ed Schuler said he always returns to Pearl Harbor to remember his shipmates killed on the USS Arizona. “I come back just to renew my acquaintance,” Schuler said as he reminisced the old days.
Ashes of retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joe Langdell will be laid to rest in the ship with full military honors. Langdell was a World War II veteran who died in February at the age of 100.
— USS Arizona (@USSArizona) December 7, 2015
[Photo by Keyston/Getty Images]