Pearl Harbor: Awakening America

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On December 7, 1941 Japanese planes streaked across the horizon around eight a.m., over the islands of Hawaii. Shortly after the Japanese arrival, bombs began dropping and explosions and shots rocked Pearl Harbor. Military personnel and troops rushed to action, but it was too late to stop the major destruction and carnage of Pearl Harbor.

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What seemed to be a Japanese victory over the U.S. turned out to be quite the opposite (Pearl Harbor 2009). Although the outcome and some general facts about the attack on Pearl Harbor are widely known, many things are less familiar. Some of these are Pearl Harbor’s background, the incidents that led up to the attack, what happened during the attack, what happened after, and a common disputed theory.

Although Pearl Harbor was the location of a devastating attack by the Japanese forces during WWII, its background is very interesting. Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor located on Oahu Island, Hawaii. It has many purposes, many of which are still used today. Pearl Harbor is used as a U.S. naval base, and is the headquarters for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It is also used as a port and refueling station (Wels 2001). The construction and development of Pearl Harbor took quite a while. It was surveyed by Lieutenant Wilkes in 1840, and after harbor rights were secured, construction began in 1898. A naval base was established on the island after 1908, and the drydock was completed in 1919. Pearl harbor was very important because of its natural defensive layout, and launchpad characteristics. The U.S. could house and launch their naval forces from Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese could use it as a base to launch attacks on the west coast (Pearl Harbor 2018).

Before the Pearl Harbor attack, tension had arose between the Americans and the Japanese. As a part of Japan’s military campaign, Japan waged war against China, who seemed like an easy neighboring country to conquer. The U.S., already against the Japanese and their antics, sided with China. To try to stop the Japanese, the U.S. restricted Japanese trade and cut off the oil supply to Japan (Wels 2001). This was an easy fix for the Allies to stop the Japanese war machine, but it posed more of a problem than a solution. Shortly after trade with Japan was cut, negotiations for oil began. The U.S. and Japan tried to work out an agreement, but their objectives seemed too far apart and conflict seemed inevitable.

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