On December 7, 1941,
the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a ruinous unexpected attack on the United States
Navy and other military assets at Pearl Harbor, instigating the nation to plunge
furiously into World War II.
The National World War
II Museum reports, “For nearly two hours, Japanese firepower rained down upon
American ships and servicemen.”
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The Japanese attack
sank 21 US warships, including USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma, 347 aircraft and
killed over 2,400 service members and civilians. This attack was only a part of
the much larger ambitions that the then-Japan and fellow power Nazi Germany
had. By the end of 1941, they had conquered much of Asia, Europe and North
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Japan had already
captured much of Chinese territory for several years. Germany’s Adolf Hitler declared
war on the United States on December 11, 1941. This consequently gave the US a
strong foundation to enter the Second World War.
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A total of 15 sailors
and one marine were conferred with the Medal of Honor for their work. Rear
Admiral Isaac Kidd among them was the first ever US officer to be killed in any
war. He was martyred while commanding the defence from the bridge of the USS Arizona.
Captain Mervyn Bennion commanded the USS West Virginia, saving the ship despite
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But Japan and Germany
of that time seemed indomitable. The US wasn’t prepared for that greater war
and entering into a global conflict.
The Pearl Harbor
attack was a turning point in shaping the future world. American sailors and
soldiers fought back swiftly in response to the attack.
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On August 23, 1994,
the United States Congress recognised December 7 as National Pearl Harbor
Remembrance Day. Each year, remembrance events are held at the Pearl Harbor
National Memorial, culminating in a commemoration ceremony on December 7.