That tensions between the United States and Japan were reaching an all-time high was no surprise. Japanese advances across Asia didn’t bode well for American interests, despite trade deals that saw exports of steel and other raw materials coming from the US to supply Japan’s industries. While much of the nation was against the notion of going to war, that didn’t mean they were blind to the very real possibility.
The Inevitable War
The surprise wasn’t the initiation of war, but how Japan had done it. While people may have known war was on the horizon, there’s no denying that American isolationism gave many the false security that at no point would a hostile foreign nation carry out an attack on American soil. It was unheard of, an impossible feat; but it happened, and that inevitable war was launched on December 7th, 1941, when a fleet of Japanese fighters and bombers flew into Pearl Harbor, killed over 2,000 Americans, and damaged assets vital to the US armed forces.
The Surprise Attack
It was a quiet Sunday morning in December. Many sailors were on shore leave, while others were enjoying breakfast to start another routine day. Perhaps, in the back of their minds, entry into World War II was a distinct possibility, but for it to start on a random weekend on the island of Oahu wasn’t something anyone could have expected.
By 0755, the Japanese had entered the Hawaiian airspace and began its two-part, two-hour attack on the United States naval base. The surprise attack came suddenly, without even a moment’s warning, and all that foreboding that so many had been experiencing as tensions rose in the Pacific was finally justified.
By the time the Japanese were done with their attack, the United States no longer enjoyed the feeling of isolation that had made it easy to not think about the possibility of an attack on American soil. Within the next 24 hours, Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan and finally gave in to the inevitable. For over two years, the United States had remained a neutral party, supporting the Allies only with supplies but not troops, before being forced to take a more active role in World War II.