What We Learned from Pearl Harbor

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Pearl Harbor

Just before eight in the morning on December 7, 1941, an aerial assault was taking place on the United States Navy’s Pearl Harbor Naval Base, and the United States Army Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Airfield in Honolulu Hawaii. Hundreds of planes blackened out the morning sunshine, causing it to look like a cloudy day. Picture the sounds of rounds zipping past your ears and hitting the person next to you, hearing your fellow soldiers crying gout in agony while they fall to their deaths. While your fellow soldiers are taking fire, you turn to the sea and hear the sounds of hundreds of sailors scream for help but to no avail as the sink with their beloved ship. In the midst of all that tragedy it united the American people. On September 1, 1939 it all began with the German invasion of Poland ("Pearl Harbor and,"). Strong tensions following the First World War, and Germany falling economy helped fuel the decision for the invasion of Poland. Following the German invasion France declared war on Germany. There were two sides in this fight, the Axis powers and the Allied Forces. The Axis powers consisted of Germany, Italy, and Japan, while the Allied forces consisted of France, Poland, United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth, the Soviet Union, and later the United States. This World War claimed 45-60 million lives, and 6 million of those lives were Jewish lives. The killing of the Jews became known as the Holocaust.  Japan entered the war with different intentions than their counter parts. Its principal objectives were to secure the resources of Southeast Asia and much of China and to establish a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" under Japanese hegemony (COAKLEY 2001, 502). They wanted to reclaim the land that they thought was rightfully theirs, land that their ancestors once occupied but was taken from them. They also wanted to expand into new territory in the pacific southeast, one of the reasons why they attacked Pearl Harbor.

At the beginning of World War Two the United States weren’t going to get involved. There were many reasons why the United States didn’t join the fight, they were still dealing with ramifications of the Great Depression, and they felt that this was not their fight and that Europe had to learn how to solve their own problems. There had been many cries for help from the Allied Forces, but the United States ignored many of them. Even though the United States did not support the war with men on the battle field, they did support the fight in other ways. They sent food, ammunition, and countless other necessary supplies to help aid the war to their allies. There were even reports of the United States sending aid to Germany, but that’s for another research paper. The United States had no intentions in joining the fight militarily until the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The planning on the attack on Pearl Harbor was extensive. The plan was for the Japanese to travel under strict radio silence thru the Kolekole Pass, using the pass as cover. They had six air craft carriers, two battleships, two cruisers, and nine destroyers. Their fleet was to be positioned approximately two hundred miles away from the Hawaiian Islands (O’Neal 2004, 410-413). They planted spies on the Naval Base, so that they would know the fleet lines and where the oil containers were located. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor Rear Admiral Ito stated: "A gigantic fleet... has massed in Pearl Harbor. This fleet will be utterly crushed with one blow at the very beginning of hostilities...Heaven will bear witness to the righteousness of our struggle."- November 1941. The Rear Admiral meant that, Japan was going to unleash hell on Pearl Harbor, with the first waves of attacks. He wanted everyone included the dead to bear witness what was going to happen on their path to reclaiming and expanding the Japanese Empire. They initially wanted to cripple the Unites States Naval fleet and to destroy the oil containers that fueled...
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