The War Years (1941 – 1946): Pearl Harbor

Attack on Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941 at 7:48 AM Hawaiian time, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack against the United States naval forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack was intended to prevent the U.S. fleet from interfering with planned Japanese military actions against U.S., British and Dutch territories in Southeast Asia.

Within 90 minutes, Japanese forces:

  • Killed 2,403 Americans
  • Injured another 1,282
  • Sank or damaged 18 ships including eight battleships and three destroyers
  • Destroyed 188 U.S. aircraft
  • Damaged another 159 U.S. aircraft

Many Americans had resisted entering World War II before the attack. After it, however, isolationist sentiment quickly disappeared.

One day later, on December 8th, 1941, the U.S. declared war on Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy – Japanese allies – declared war on the U.S. The U.S. declared war on them the same day.

Within a matter of days, the U.S. had been thrust into a war few wanted.

Japanese Americans, vilified and imprisoned without trials at the outset of the war simply because of their race, would soon become some of America’s greatest heroes. This is their story.

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