Days and Weeks After the Attack on Pearl Harbor

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The attack on Pearl Harbor is the main event that triggered the United States’ involvement in World War II. A surprise attack taking place at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii, the Japanese Navy managed to destroy 20 American Naval vessels, eight battleships, and over 300 airplanes (A&E Networks). Although it lasted no more than two hours, it is one of the most devastating attacks in US History.

While it was a surprise attack, however, there was no doubt that at one point something would happen between Japan and the United States; in other words, the attack was the surprise; not the war. With Japan being roughly 4,000 miles away, however, nobody expected a war start on Hawaiian land. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a clear tragedy; however, it allowed America to unify as a country, and thus, rapidly rebound from the attack.

Before the attack happened, the Japanese only had one goal: destroy the Pacific Fleet; also known as the US Navy (A&E Networks). If they did it this way, their hopes of weakening the US and leaving America hopeless with Japanese troops scattered around the area would be successful (Stokesbury, 179). In addition, it would prevent any obstacles in the course of defeating Malaya and the Dutch East Indies (Van der Vat, 151).

The particular destruction of the USS Arizona (a battleship built, designed, and used by the US Navy) commenced the whole attack on Pearl Harbor, when a massive bomb was dropped on it, killing approximately 1,000 people of which were trapped inside it (A&E Networks). After those two hours, each and every USS battleship was in some way significantly damaged (American Heritage Foundation). Before the attack with the amount of battleships the US had, America would have been very well-prepared, but because it was a surprise attack, it left the US stunned.

Although the attack on Pearl Harbor did much damage, the US Navy was able to prepare and fight back quickly. Fortunately, “the most important, onshore vitals were unbroken and unharmed: oil storage depots, repair shops, shipyards and submarine docks” (A&E Networks).. With all of that left, it was all that the US could work with it; however, that was not an issue. While battleships were very important naval vessels, Aircraft carriers were the most vital, especially during this time (A&E Networks).

Since the aircraft carriers were not on Pearl Harbor during the time of the attack, they were able to access them after and, therefore, bounce back (A&E Networks). The Japanese’s plan and goal would have been achieved and US would not have been able to rebound as quickly without the facilities that the bombs did not destroy; therefore, their attempt to destroy the Pacific was a fail.

An attack that killed over 2400 Americans, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was evidently, unblamingly unhappy and, along with the rest of his country, appalled. Although he was calm in trying to figure out what to discuss with the Congress, a nation-wide fear was that the US would get attacked again, especially from Germany. A huge problem this would have been because the US would not have been ready to fight in let alone two war declarations.

After hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt talked to many military advisors and even spoke with Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister at the time, about the attack; therefore, Churchill stating “we are all in the same boat now” (A&E Networks). A speech to prepare, the congress to impress, and a country to inform and calm down, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his speech to declare that the US will enter the war on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack. A speech that cut right to the point and the US was informed of the attack, factually stating “a date which will live in infamy” (A&E Networks).

Although the Japanese planned to attack the US for awhile, they ended up attacking many different territories, parts of countries, and more areas in the Pacific region the same day of the attack, or the morning of which the speech was given. With that being said, the US and Roosevelt know that America is capable of so much more than just the suffering of a surprise attack against the Japanese; therefore, it was time to enter war and rebound (Stokesbury, 181). The declaration of war between the United States and Japanese was officially announced by Roosevelt at the end of his speech:

“I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.” – FDR.

FDR evidently played a large role in entering the US into World War II; however, America did not instantaneously rally as a country, rather Roosevelt wanted to seek vengeance towards Japan first. (Nilsson). The US and Japan always had bad blood, but the fact that it had surprisingly happened and left the US hopeless in the moment segwayed the US into “plotting revenge”.

At this time, Japan was mainly focused on becoming the most powerful ruler of Asia (Nilsson). Roosevelt “ended American export of machinery to Japan, stopped all sales of American oil, and eventually froze Japanese assets in the US” (Nilsson). In other words, Japan no longer has anything to do with America’s wealth. After the multiple attacks the Japanese did, there was no longer any shot of an alliance with any country, especially the US (Nilsson).

As time went on and as America’s recovery progressed, Roosevelt’s hatred for Japan only grew stronger. Not only was it hatred for Japan itself, but people of Japanese descent living in the United States (A&E Networks). This hatred turned into a process, the process of racially discriminating Japanese-Americans through internment camps: Executive Order 9066. The Executive Order 9066 was signed by Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, declaring “the intention of preventing espionage on American shores” (A&E Networks). California, Washington, and Oregon were the states with the most Japanese-American population; therefore, military zones were created as Roosevelt demanded that anyone of Japanese descent (especially in those three states) shall be “relocated” (A&E Networks).

Likewise, this did not only happen in to the Japanese in United States, but more than 20,000 people of Japanese descent also had to be relocated from Peru, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Argentina to the US (A&E Networks). On the same day of the attack, over 1,000 people of Japanese descent were removed from their homes and incarcerated without any evidence of doing something wrong or having anything to do with the attack (Van der Vat). Although a small percentage, Japanese people in Hawaii were also sent to camps (A&E Networks). After a little over 4 years of Japanese Internment Camps, they finally closed in march of 1946.

Apart from Roosevelt racially discriminating Japanese-Americans, the attack on Pearl Harbor actually unified the US. After the Congress passed the declaration of war on Japan; three days later, Germany and Italy both declared war on the United States. 97% of America agreed and were thus motivated by the fact that the US has officially entered World War II. Roosevelt secretly had a plan to attack Germany first, however, and this was one thing he knew he could not tell his country because everyone wanted to attack Japan first, once, and for all (American Heritage Foundation).

As the US was officially in the war, they were quick to fixing and creating more battleships, aircraft carriers, and every other possible weapon that was guaranteed strength in fighting Japan (American Heritage Foundation). The attack most definitely helped unify the US especially because it became the country’s center focus, bringing about the idea that war would help put an end to a long-awaited feud between countries (A&E Networks).

With the United States officially in World War II, they decided to turn the tables by doing a surprise attack on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. The attack did not do much damage to Japan; however, the main purpose of it was to make it known that America is in this war and ready to go. As Roosevelt wanted instant revenge on Japan for the attack on Pearl Harbor, this was what was on the top of his “war to-do list” (Sommerville).

Aircraft carriers and naval planes were not their best option as they would have to sail and fly dangerously close to Japanese territory, so this is where Colonel James Doolittle does his role. He came up with the idea to use USAAF B-25 Mitchell bombers launched from the USS Hornet, a battleship belonged to the US Navy. The reason as to why this did not to as much damage as intended was because Doolittle was spotted by Japanese troops in aircrafts, so the launch was 650 miles away instead (Sommerville).

After the attack, the US aircrafts planned to go to Chinese territory; instead, one went the wrong way and landed in (Soviet) Russia, while others ran low on fuel and at unknown airfields. Some of those airfields were Japanese territory; therefore, they were found; captured, tortured; and starved. The Doolittle Raid was successful in showing that the US is not afraid to fight back and take part in World War II; however, the outcome was not as damaged as anticipated, and three crew members died; while every other aircraft following Doolittle ran out of fuel and diverged (Sommerville).

The attack on Pearl Harbor, without a doubt, did much damage to Pearl Harbor and America itself; however, all the hatred and desire for war brought the US together as a whole. Before the attack, America feared war and more conflict with countries like Germany, but the tension between America and Japan was always there. America was much into creating alliances with other countries to go with desired victory; however, this attack gave them a “news flash” and unveiled that America has more enemies than they thought. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a clear tragedy, it allowed America to unify as a country and achieve victory as one.

Cite this paper

Days and Weeks After the Attack on Pearl Harbor. (2021, Jun 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/days-and-weeks-after-the-attack-on-pearl-harbor/



How many days after Pearl Harbor was attacked?
The United States declared war on Japan the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked.
What happened the days after Pearl Harbor?
The days after Pearl Harbor were filled with shock and confusion. People were trying to process what had happened and why.
What is the timeline of Pearl Harbor?
The timeline of Pearl Harbor is as follows: the attack on Pearl Harbor took place on December 7, 1941, and the United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941.
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