Do You Remember Pearl Harbor Day 1941?
President Franklin D. Roosevelt denounced it as a "Date that will live in infamy." It was the day America was dragged into World War II.
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Damaged and afire, the battleship U.S.S. Nevada attempted to escape the harbor and was targeted by Japanese bombers hoping she could be sunk strategically, blocking the harbor entrance.
The U.S.S. California was hit by two bombs and two torpedoes. The crew might have kept her afloat, but were ordered to abandon ship just as they were getting the pumps to work. Smoke from the Arizona and the battleship U.S.S. West Virginia had drifted over her, making her situation look worse than it was. The U.S.S. Utah was hit twice by torpedoes, the West Virginia seven times, the last one tearing away her rudder.
The mighty U.S.S. Oklahoma was capsized. The U.S.S. Maryland was hit twice, but not seriously damaged.
Eight U.S. Army Air Corps pilots managed to get airborne during the battle and six were credited with downing at least one Japanese aircraft each.
The attack came as a profound shock to the American people. A deep domestic yearning to stay neutral from the war raging in Europe evaporated, particularly after Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy declared war on the U.S. on December 11.
There might be historical precedents for such an unannounced military action by Japan – a “sneak attack.” However, the lack of any formal warning, particularly while peace negotiations were ongoing in Washington, D.C., led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim to Congress that December 7, 1941, would forever be ”a date which will live in infamy.”
My grandfather was infuriated by the sneak attack – but heartsick over the reaction against U.S.-born Japanese-Americans. Within weeks of the attack, American citizens of Japanese ancestry were rounded up
into “relocation camps” in the California and Arizona deserts. There, they stared out through barbed wire at angry Americans denouncing them as “dirty Japs.”