United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 a “day which will live in infamy.” On this day, the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked by hundreds of Japanese fighter planes.
This surprise attack lasted two full hours, long enough for 20 vessels, 200 planes, and 2,000 lives to be destroyed.
The very next day, Congress declared war on Japan which entered the U.S. into World War Two.
Why did Japan attack the naval base? First, Japan was angry with the United States for putting limits on their trading activities. America had put a 90% trade embargo on oil to Japan because of its destructive imperial ambitions in the far east. The Japanese thought that hurting the U.S. would result in these limits being lifted.
Second, Japan knew that destroying the Pacific naval fleet in Hawaii would stop the Americans from coming after it. Luckily, all of the aircraft carriers were away from the base which were far more powerful and important. The Japanese did not know that and were in for a rude awakening!