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The History of Pearl Harbor

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You may have seen the Hollywood movie starring Ben Affleck and Josh Harnett in 2001 about Pearl Harbor, but how much do you actually know about the this important moment in American history? Get the real facts and figures of the attack that officially involved the United States in World War II.

Pearl Harbor - Events Leading Up...

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan had its sights on other things. In 1931, Japan forcibly took control of Manchuria, which today is a chunk of land that lies between Russia and China. From there, Japan began its advance into China, intending to take as much of Southeast Asia as possible. Western nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands disagreed with Japan's attacks so they refused to trade with them anymore - cutting off Japan's supply of oil and other resources.

Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941

At first, Japan thought they would be able to take oil and resources from other Asian countries but that soon proved to be too big a task. They knew that the United States had set up a Naval base in Hawaii to monitor the war activity in the Pacific Ocean, which made any further invasions difficult for Japan. This is a big reason they launched the attack on Pearl Harbor. For months before the bombing, Japanese troops worked on a very secretive plan to take out the Naval base at Pearl Harbor. Finally, on December 7, 1941, approximately 181 fighter planes flew over Oahu and began their attack. Twenty one ships in the US Naval fleet were destroyed within a couple hours and more than 2,400 people were killed.

Pearl Harbor - The Aftermath

The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan. As this was during World War II, Japan in turn joined the forces with Germany, who responded by declaring war on the United States on December 12, 1941. This catapulted the United States officially into World War II. They fought alongside the Allied forces of the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands for the next four years. The Japanese-American conflict didn't come to an end until 1945 - a few days after the United States dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing approximately 100,000 people.

Pearl Harbor - Did U Know?

  • Pearl Harbor is located on the southern coast of Oahu island in Hawaii.
  • After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the American government ordered all people of Japanese ancestry to leave the west coast of the United States. If they did not have anywhere to go, they were sent to Internment Camps where they were forced to live until the war was over.
  • Take a trip through history by visiting the USS Arizona Memorial National Park at Pearl Harbor. The park is built around the site of the sunken USS Arizona ship.
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