At 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian time on Dec. 7, 1941, one of the most devastating attacks was launched against the United States. Months of planning came to fruition as Japan launched a coordinated surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in port at Pearl Harbor.
The attack was meant to cripple America’s ability to respond to Japan’s continued aggression in World War II. Until that point, the U.S. had not been explicitly pulled into the war, though it was helping the Allied cause.
The attack did do a number on the U.S. Fleet. Two waves, 353 Japanese aircraft in total, damaged all eight battleships in port with four sinking to the bottom. The attack also sank three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and one minelayer. American aircraft was also severely damaged during the attack with 187 destroyed.
The loss of life surpassed any physical damage that was done to our infrastructure. The final death total for the U.S. was 2,403 killed, including 68 civilians, and 1,178 were wounded. Still, despite the chaos and death taking place during the attack, the U.S. managed to fight back and inflict some damage on the Japanese.
America was knocked down by the attack, but we weren’t knocked out like the Japanese were hoping for. The attack pushed us into the WWII, and after four years of fighting, the Allied squads had soundly defeated the Axis powers to end what was hopefully the last great global conflict.
There is a reason why we refer to those who fought and supported the WWII war effort as the Greatest Generation. They were a group of ordinary people who came together to fight an extraordinary evil that was trying to take over the world.
Many fought and many died to preserve not only our way of life, but the way of life for several countries around the globe. We revere them for their indomitable will they displayed in the face of horrific circumstances.
Dec. 7 is not a national holiday, but we encourage everyone to take at least a few moments today to remember the sacrifices and hard work that so many contributed to save the world from the tyranny and oppression of the Axis powers. Without their efforts, the world would be a much different place.