Remembering Pearl Harbor

Today,the United States marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the “Day of Infamy” that catapulted the country into World War II. About 42,000 sailors, soldiers and Marines were stationed on the island of Oahu that Sunday morning in 1941 when the Japanese launched the air raid. The attack by the Japanese on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor was unprovoked. Four U.S. battleships sank or capsized, several hundred warplanes were destroyed and the attack killed 2,388 Americans. Many more were injured.The remains of the USS Arizona lie in Pearl Harbor as a memorial to all those who died.

It was the most devastating foreign attack on U.S. soil until September 11, 2001. Many Americans draw a comparison between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the attacks on September 11, 2001.  A spokesman for the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard says the comparison keeps the memory of Pearl Harbor alive for  a new generation. The U.S. declared war on Japan the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. On December 11, 1941, Japan’s Axis partners Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S., marking the nation’s entry into the global conflict. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated it was a “date that would live in infamy.”

Suddenly thrust into the Second World War, Americans found themselves immersed in the war effort, with emotions running high. During the early months of 1942, more than 100,000 Japanese Americans (though they were U.S. citizens) found themselves relocated into internment camps. Anti-Japanese sentiment crossed to hysteria as these citizens were forced to leave their homes and jobs to live under the harsh conditions of the camps. It’s reported that President Roosevelt opposed this relocation measure, but that he bowed to public pressure. After he was re-elected in 1944, Roosevelt ordered the camps closed.

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