79th Anniversary of The Pearl Harbor bombing

Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, causing the US to enter World War II.



A US battleship, the USS Arizona, goes down after collapse of her forward magazines.

by Lara Charters, Contributor

79 years ago, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base located in Oahu, Hawaii. The bombing had a significant impact on the U.S., resulting in President Franklin D. Roosevelt declaring war on Japan, thereby entering America into the fray of World War II. 

On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor using an array of bombs, bullets, and torpedoes. The attack ended quickly, approximately two hours after it began. 20 American ships and a number of airplanes were badly damaged. 

Eight  U.S. battleships were taken in the collateral of the fight, the majority of which were able to be repaired.  However, the USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma were beyond recovery. 

A U.S. Army officer stands among destroyed P-40 fighters following the attack. (NPS)

The U.S. was able to recover quickly from the attack, and although many ships and planes were damaged, many of the onshore facilities were still intact. Additionally, all of America’s aircraft carriers were spared, as they were not at the base on Dec. 7.

Along with the loss of many U.S. weapons, many people died in the battle. 2,403 people,  military personnel and civilians alike, died, and around 1,000 were injured. 

On Dec. 8, Roosevelt addressed Congress, speaking on the deliberate attack and how America would respond. That day, Congress accepted the declaration of war on Japan, with nearly every member voting in favor of  the war. Only one person voted against it: Montana representative Jeannette Rankin, a pacifist woman who refused to fight in war herself, much less sending other people to do it. 

In the following days, Germany and Italy, allies of Japan, also declared war on America, who reciprocated the declarations. Although World War II began two years prior, America was only then entering the war. 

Like many other counties, Kitsap reacted quickly, sending out information to residences. Precautions were put into place, calling on local Navy, police and civilian forces to be on alert and help protect the area and Navy bases that were there. 

Nearby in Seattle, Wash., fear governed people’s actions. Home lights and car lights were kept out for fear that they would be seen by Japanese planes, and Japanese Americans were shunned and alienated. 

This fear of Japanese Americans and their intents continued to build as the war continued until Feb. 19, 1942, when Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, condemning thousands of Japanese Americans to internment camps. One such camp was located on nearby Bainbridge Island. 

Today, Pearl Harbor is both an active military base and a historical landmark in remembrance of the events that took place there. A popular tourist attraction for both Japanese and Americans, the site is a memory of past conflict and a place to come together.