On this day in history, December 7, 1941, the United States naval base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked by Japanese bombers and warplanes. On this, the 70th anniversary of this attack on US soil, we remember the 2,400 Americans who were killed and many more that were injured. This 1941 photograph below was taken by a Japanese plane during the attack.
This Japanese surprise attack began at 7:55 am, on a Sunday morning, rendering much of the Pacific naval fleet useless. Three naval battleship destroyers and seven other naval ships were destroyed and sunk. Pictured below are the USS naval ships the Arizona and the California sinking during the attack. Nearly half of the American deaths on that morning were due to the eventual explosion of the Arizona.
A Sunday morning, many of the military personnel posted at Pearl Harbor on that day were on the mainland for church services. The attack began with a Japanese dive bomber, decorated with the Rising Sun of Japan, and followed by 360 Japanese warplanes. These planes had been spotted on radar an hour earlier but they were mistakenly assumed to be a flight of B-17′s that were expected from the US. Pictured below is the Japanese naval aircraft carrier and the warplanes preparing to take off for the Pearl Harbor attack.
The Japanese warplane pilots were given the objective to target the base in its areas of highest value. They were equipped with torpedoes that were specifically designed for the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor. 353 Japanese planes attacked the Pearl Harbor naval base in waves and successful maimed the United States naval fleet.
This was probably the biggest mistake they had ever made however. This attack on US soil directly led the US to end its wavering views on joining in WWII. The next day, President Roosevelt delivered his now famous speech, his Day of Infamy Speech. He called for a formal declaration of war on Japan. His speech was heartfelt and emotional, pulling at the heartstrings of all Americans and bringing them together for a common purpose. You can go read a full transcript and hear the audio of FDR’s Infamy Speech. FDR is pictured here giving his speech on December 8, 1941.
Later that day, the US declared war against Japan, and later against Germany and Italy as well. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is said to have woken a sleeping giant. While it had been attempting to avoid it, this attack directly led to the US entrance into WWII and the eventual atomic bombings by the US on the Japanese towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulting in the Japanese surrender to end the war. Pictured here is the atomic bombing on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.