Pearl Harbor has come to hold a great deal of significance in United States history and in the history of the world. Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces on December 7th of 1941. The troops stationed at the harbor were caught unawares, and the carefully planned attack removed the United States Navy’s battleship power in less than two hours. The Japanese were looking to remove all obstacles in the way of making a southward expansion of their empire.
The attack on Pearl Harbor came on a Sunday morning when most of the troops were either sleeping or enjoying a leisurely morning. The first and greatest hit was on the Battleship Arizona. A single well-aimed armor piercing torpedo destroyed the entire ship, and 1,104 men lost their lives. By the time the U.S. troops were able to rally their forces, five of their eight battleships had either been sunk or were sinking.
In addition to the weakening of power by destroying ships and planes, the Japanese killed more than 2,400 Americans (both military and civilian) that morning. No doubt, the country was enraged. The news of the attacks hit the radio waves in the early afternoon, and the response from U.S. citizens was a dramatic influx of men volunteering their services to the American military force.
If Japan wanted a war, the Americans were now more than motivated to give them one. In the months prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States was trying to work diplomatically with Japan. After the attack, the United States had no other choice but to join in the Second World War to fight against Japanese forces.
With our allies by our side, the United States was now a full combatant in the war. However, the United States was considerably weakened by the attacks at Pearl Harbor, and the first battles fought at sea were not exactly favorable for the Americans. Despite their weaknesses, the United States continued to press onward. The memory of the attack on Pearl Harbor was a significant motivator as the troops continued to give and risk their lives in the hopes of defeating German, Italian and Japanese forces in order to again restore world peace.
Pearl Harbor is significant for many reasons. As was just mentioned, the events at Pearl Harbor gave the American forces motivation and something to fight for. To regain order and peace was personal, whereas before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Americans were very passive about the ensuing war. Pearl Harbor was a motivating factor in giving the troops strength to continue fighting even though they were not the strongest force in the sea.
Pearl Harbor remains significant today because of the end result of the war and the good things that occurred because of U.S. involvement. Also, those who lost their lives on that 7th day of December were significant. Pearl Harbor remains a place that many consider sacred. The Battleship Arizona has been allowed to rest where she fell after being irreparably damaged. The soldiers who were killed or trapped aboard were also allowed to rest in the belly of the ship. Pearl Harbor and the Battleship Arizona are now and will remain, memorials to the men and women who were killed that day and a source of strength for those who fought to preserve their memory and ensure that their deaths were not in vain.
A floating memorial can be visited on the Hawaiian island of Oahu where Pearl Harbor is located. More information as to the significance of the events that took place there can be found in the adjacent Pearl Harbor and World War II memorial and museum.
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