From the NFRW Armed Services Committee
By Becky Bechtel, Indiana
On December 7, 1941, at 7:48 a.m., Japanese fighter planes flew into Pearl Harbor, without warning, in a surprise attack on the United States of America. Over 2,403 people were killed, including 68 civilians.
The base in Honolulu was attacked over a two-hour period by 353 Japanese aircraft. Nineteen U.S. Naval vessels were sunk or damaged and 188 aircraft were destroyed. The day after the attack the United States declared war on Axis powers (Japan, Germany, and Italy) and joined allied powers (Great Britain, France, the USSR, and China), officially entering World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the day would “live in infamy.”
Japan planned this surprise attack because they were faced with severe shortages of oil and other natural resources; the attack was intended as a preventative action to keep the U.S. Pacific fleet from interfering with its planned military actions in Southeast Asia.
For our country, the significance of Pearl Harbor was not that the American people were attacked, but that as a result of the attack, we came together and grew stronger. Pearl Harbor was a reminder that others gave their all to give Americans their freedom. As men were deployed in droves to fight in World War II, American women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers to work for countless defense industries. “Rosie the Riveter” became an iconic image of these women who worked behind the scenes to help our nation during the war.
Each year, there are observances for Pearl Harbor across the nation. This year, the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony will be held on December 7 at 7:30 a.m. at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. This memorial is built on the water, above the wreckage of the U.S.S. Arizona. In addition, a “Rosie the Riveter” poster signing will be held December 6 at the Pacific Historic Parks Bookstore.
Pearl Harbor is a symbol of American survival and hope, as well as a message for our country to be prepared at all times.