Pearl Harbor Remberance  Day
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Rather than crushing American morale, as the Japanese had hoped, the attack on Pearl Harbor united the country behind Roosevelt and the war. The sneak attack ignited American determination to go to war.

President Roosevelt  
  President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the declaration of war against Japan, December 8, 1941.  

On December 8, 1941, the day after the attack, President Roosevelt gave his famous Pearl Harbor Speech to Congress. Following the speech, the Senate and the House voted almost unanimously to declare war on Japan. Only three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. Now the U.S. needed to be ready for a two-front war, in the Pacific and in Europe.

The first months of the war in the Pacific were more victorious for the Japanese than for the U.S. troops. The first small-scale success for the U.S. came on April 18, 1942, when American bombers attacked Japan in what became known as the Doolittle Raid. The president put Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle in charge of the mission. The idea of the mission was to load long-range bombers, rather the usual short-range, on a carrier because the long-range bombers could reach Japan from farther away. The only problem with the plan was that the long-range bombers could not land back on the carrier. They would have to land in China after dropping the bombs on the Tokyo area in Japan. The destruction caused by the American bombs in Japan was minor, but the raid boosted American confidence in the war despite
Poster issued by the Office of War  
  Poster issued by the Office of War Information, Washington, D.C., in 1942, in remembrance of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At the top, the poster features a quotation from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  
the fact that none of the American bombers reached the intended Chinese airfields after the raid, and nine men out of the crew of eighty did not survive the mission.

The Japanese were horrified by the fact that the Doolittle Raid could have killed their emperor. They decided to attack Midway Island, the last American base in the North Pacific west of Hawaii. On June 4, 1942, the Japanese launched their aircraft against Midway. They were met by intense anti-aircraft fire. The Japanese were not aware that the U.S. military had broken the Japanese code for conducting operations and, therefore, knew about the Japanese attack on Midway ahead of time. The U.S. forces were able to sink four of Japan’s largest carriers during a counterattack that caused considerable damage to the Japanese navy. The Battle of Midway changed the direction of the war in the Pacific. The U.S. fleet was able to regain ground it had previously lost to the Japanese and further its advance.

During 1943 and 1944, Americans captured several islands in the Pacific, but all of them were still too far from Japan to be used as airfields for American bombers. By the time U.S. planes reached Japan, they did not have enough fuel to correct possible calculation errors before dropping the bombs, and therefore, they kept missing their targets. To solve this problem, American military planners decided to invade the island of Iwo Jima. U.S. Marines suffered massive casualties in the early 1945 battle, but eventually captured the island.

WW II Army Recruiting Poster  
  WW II Army Recruiting Poster  

By the end of the spring of 1945, Japan was still not ready to surrender despite the large-scale firebombing of Japan’s most important industrial cities. Many Americans believed that the Japanese would not surrender unless their country was invaded. To make an invasion possible, the U.S. decided to attack Okinawa, an island which was only 350 miles from Japan. Nearly three months after landing on Okinawa, and after the loss of more than 12,000 American lives, U.S. troops finally claimed victory on June 22, 1945.

The invasion of Japan was not going to be easy. Advisers to President Truman, who had succeeded the recently deceased President Roosevelt, warned him about the potential for a high number of casualties if the invasion were to take place. To bring the war to an end, President Truman ordered an atomic bomb, which American engineers and scientists had been working on for the past three years, to be dropped on Japan.

Atomic Bomb  
  A dense column of smoke rises more than 60,000 feet into the air over Nagasaki, the result of the second atomic bomb ever used in warfare, dropped on August 8, 1945.  
On August 6, 1945, a U.S. bomber dropped the first atomic bomb, “Little Boy,” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, causing unimaginable destruction. When the Japanese did not immediately surrender, the United States decided to drop another atomic bomb, “Fat Man,” three days later, this time on the city of Nagasaki. The same day the second atomic bomb was dropped, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. The threat of the Soviet Union and the United States invading their country was enough to make the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945. The Second World War, which for the United States had officially begun following the Pearl Harbor attack, was finally over.
General Douglas MacArthur on the USS Missouri  
  Gen. Douglas MacArthur signs as Supreme Allied Commander during formal surrender ceremonies on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.  

The USS Arizona is the final resting place for many of the ship’s 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. The USS Arizona Memorial has come to commemorate all military personnel killed in the Pearl Harbor attack. The memorial is accessed by boats from the naval base at Pearl Harbor. The memorial is 184 feet long and spans over the mid-portion of the sunken battleship which, when viewed from above, is still visible beneath the water. It consists of three main sections: the entry and assembly rooms; a central area designed for ceremonies and viewing ports overlooking the Arizona; and the shrine room, where a marble wall is inset with bronze letters naming each of the deceased crew members.

USS Arizona Aerial View  
  Aerial view of the USS Arizona Memorial. The ghostly remains of the sunken USS Arizona are visible beneath the Memorial. A tour boat rests at the pier that allows visitors to enter the Memorial building.  

According to its architect, Alfred Preis, the design of the Memorial “expresses initial defeat and ultimate victory.” He represents this with the sagging center and ends that stand strong and vigorous. The effect is one of serenity. He omitted undertones of sadness in his design in order to let visitors reflect on their own personal responses.

USS Arizona Memorial  
  USS Arizona Memorial  

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