Pearl Harbor Day
Pearl Harbor Day is a day of remembrance that honors the 2,403 lives lost in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Pearl Harbor is a United States Naval Base located right outside Honolulu, Hawaii. Pearl Harbor has remained an active USN base and has been attacked twice since Pearl Harbor Day. The first time was during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from December 7-8th 1941 and the second was during an airplane suicide bombing that killed two sailors and injured eight others.
Pearl Harbor is also thought of as one of the USN’s biggest victories because Pearl Harbor is where the Battle of Midway took place. Pearl Harbor was not attacked during the battle, but instead, American bombers attacked Japan. Pearl Harbor Day was started by an organization called ‘Remember Pearl Harbor.’ Pearl Harbor Day is celebrated on December 7th each year to show respect for those who lost their lives in Pearl Harbor during WWII.
Pearl Harbor Day is December 7th. Pearl Harbor Day commemorates the Pearl Harbor naval base in Honolulu, Hawaii being bombed by Japan on December 7th, 1941. This day is meant to commemorate all of those who died during this attack as well as honor their sacrifices. Pearl Harbor was attacked just two hours after a US law was passed that would have likely stopped the attacks, but nobody had informed the Pearl Harbor naval base of this event yet.
The idea for the Pearl Harbor attack
The idea for the Pearl Harbor attack was conceived by Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and planned by Captain Minoru Genda. Yamamoto’s Pearl Harbor notion was inspired by a prophetic book as well as a past bombing. Hector Bywater, a British naval expert, published The Great Pacific War in 1925. It was a realistic narrative of an encounter between the United States and Japan that started with the Japanese destruction of the American fleet and proceeded to an invasion of Guam and the Philippines. On November 11, 1940, the Royal Air Force successfully attacked the Italian fleet at Taranto, and Yamamoto began to believe that Bywater’s hoax might become a reality.
Admiral Yamamoto also observed Pearl Harbor firsthand. In 1928, he traveled to the United States as a naval attaché and spent four months in Hawaii; he studied Pearl Harbor closely and noted that the base’s fuel reserves and torpedo storage could be easily hit by air attacks. Yamamoto knew Japan needed oil and rubber for its war machine: attacking Pearl Harbor would give the country access both these resources. All of his planning was kept top secret; even before Pearl Harbor, Americans were told military information should not reach the public until it had been confirmed three times.
Yamamoto’s plan called for six aircraft carriers with 423 planes to launch a preemptive strike on Pearl Harbor within minutes of an attack signal from a scout plane or submarine. The planes would then return and land to rearm, refuel and attack Pearl Harbor again as part of a second wave. A third would arrive with only fighters after the defenses had been softened up for an invasion.
The Pearl Harbor plan was officially adopted at an Imperial Conference on November 5, 1941; the attack date was set for December 7, 1941 to hit Pearl Harbor during weekend exercises and ensure that all sailors were in Pearl Harbor when it was attacked. Even the final approval by the Emperor could not help Pearl Harbor.
Japan’s admirals wanted their fleet to be based in Formosa (Taiwan) instead of closer to Pearl Harbor due to higher risks of discovery and greater distance from fuel supplies – Yamamoto insisted Pearl Harbor be the base to surprise the Americans. Pearl Harbor was not a primary target until Yamamoto threatened to resign – Pearl Harbor had been considered just one of many possible targets, but Yamamoto’s position forced it to become the priority.
In all, Japan sent six aircraft carriers with 423 planes and 30 midget submarines into Pearl Harbor before dawn on December 7, 1941. The first wave attacked for two hours using torpedo bombers, sinking or seriously damaging all eight American battleships in Pearl Harbor and killing 2,402 Americans. The second wave attacked Pearl Harbor’s airfields to prevent any counterattack from taking place and continued bombing the harbor facilities for three hours. In total, Japan lost 65 men while killing 2,335 Americans (35 were civilians) and wounding another 1,247.
The Pearl Harbor attack was so devastating that it led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to call December 7th ” a date which will live in infamy”. America declared war on Japan the next day and soon after Germany and Italy also declared war on America. Pearl Harbor is today remembered as a day of great tragedy but also one that united Americans together to fight for freedom against forces of tyranny. Pearl Harbor Day is still commemorated each year by speeches from government officials, military parades, the laying of wreaths at the Pearl Harbor memorial site, and other events honoring those killed during the Pearl Harbor bombing.
Pearl Harbor Day has been officially recognized as a federal holiday every year since Congress passed a law in 1949, signed by President Harry Truman. Pearl Harbor Day has been observed every year since the attack on Pearl Harbor, including December 8th through 10th, 1941. Pearl Harbor Day will come to an end after 2016 when it is replaced by National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day to commemorate both Pearl Harbor and the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The Pearl Harbor Naval Base is now known for being one of the most significant events leading off America’s involvement in World War II and serves as home to over 50 US Navy ships today. Over half a million sailors pass through Pearl Harbor each year.
Where Is Pearl Harbor?
The location of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is roughly 2,000 miles from the United States mainland and 4,000 miles from Japan. The Japanese were not expected to start a war with an assault on the remote islands of Hawaii.
With that in mind, American intelligence officials were confident that any Japanese aggression would occur in one of the (relatively) nearby European colonies of the South Pacific: the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, or Indochina.
The absence of any significant defenses at Pearl Harbor was due in large part to the fact that American military authorities were not anticipating an attack so close to home. Almost the entire Pacific Fleet was moored around Ford Island in the harbor, and hundreds of aircraft were crammed on nearby runways.
The Life of USS Arizona
The Japanese strategy was straightforward: To sink the Pacific Fleet. As a result, the American military would be unable to fight back as Japan’s armed forces spread throughout the South Pacific. On December 7th, after months of preparation and training, the Japanese launched their assault.
At approximately 8 a.m., Japanese airplanes flew over Pearl Harbor. Shells and bullets rained down on the ships docked below. A 1,800-pound bomb penetrated the deck of the battleship USS Arizona and exploded in her forward ammunition store at 8:10 a.m. The ship was destroyed, with more than 1,000 people trapped inside.
The USS Oklahoma was next. Torpedoes pierced the battleship’s shell, causing the ship to capsize and sink. With 400 men on board, Oklahoma capsized and sank into the depths.
Pearl Harbor facts:
- Pearl Harbor occurred in Hawaii
- It was the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor
- The surprise assault did not wipe out the entire American Pacific Fleet.
- Japan is now one of America’s most loyal allies.
- The Japanese navy was supposed to take a prominent part in the assault.
- The attack on Pearl Harbor provoked the United States to enter World War II.
- The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted for about two hours and was fought at sea, air, and land.
- If they had attacked separate regions, Japan might have caused far more damage.
- To safeguard the “Southern Resource Area’s” invasion, Pearl Harbor was attacked.
- The USS Arizona still leaks fuel
- 134,000 Americans join the military in the first 30 days after an attack
- December 7th is Pearl Harbor day
- 2 battleships were sunk; 3 battleships were heavily damaged; 4 other ships were sunk; 188 airplanes were destroyed
- 2,400 Americans died and 1,000 more wounded
- Before the Pearl Harbor attack, Americans were the first to fire.
Pearl Harbor Day is a day we must not forget. Pearl Harbor Day should be remembered every year on the date and time Pearl Harbor was attacked and as a visual reminder of Pearl Harbor and all those who served.
For more information check out our All Glorious December Global Holidays article here.
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