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Today is a very important day; it is the 75th anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, one of the most infamous battles in history.

File:The USS Arizona (BB-39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor - NARA 195617 - Edit.jpg

The USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor

 

World War II was raging in Europe at the time, and the United States of America under President Franklin D. Roosevelt was intent on keeping its neutrality. However, Roosevelt was providing the Allies in Europe with supplies to fight the Axis without joining the war. Japan, meanwhile, was a major power in the Pacific that was part of the Axis alliance.

The Japanese were planning on a crippling assault on the U.S. The plan was to attack Pearl Harbor and take out the American Navy, then attack and conquer all of the islands in the Pacific, including the Philippines. Japan also needed to buy time for its navy to rebuild itself. The emperor of Japan, Hirohito, approved it on November 5th, 1941, and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was to lead the assault.

The attack took place on December 7, 1941, before any declaration of war between Japan and the U.S. The Japanese attacked by plane and by submarine. The U.S. radar detected the Japanese planes before the actual attack, but presumed that these were bombers that were coming in from California. The first wave of the Japanese attack was devastating. The U.S. troops were caught unprepared but fought valiantly. After 90 minutes, over 2,400 U.S. soldiers were dead, including over 1,000 killed on the USS Arizona. About 60 Japanese men died during the battle.

Shortly after the surprise attack, the U.S. declared war on Japan. Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S., and therefore the United States entered World War II. Japanese admiral Hara Tadaichi summed up the Japanese result: “We won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war.” They only wakened up a “sleeping giant.” The US navy’s vital aircraft carriers were not in port at the time, and thus were able to continue the war. We in America honor those who gave their lives for their country!

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