Pearl harbor was certainly one of the most dramatic turning points in United States history. It propelled the country from an isolationist continent into the spotlight on the world stage. World War II changed the way the world viewed the United States and how Americans viewed themselves. As a result of Pearl Harbor and the war the United States accepted the predominant world leadership role.
The tragedy of Pearl Harbor shocked and united the American people greater than any other event before. As Americans awoke on a lazy Sunday morning in Hawaii, little did they know that within a few short minutes their lives would be changed forever.
Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen watched in horror as the United States fleet including the mighty dreadnoughts burned and sank to the bottom of the shallow blue harbor. The attack caused mass destruction and confusion. Numerous false rumors were spread including that Japanese paratroopers were invading Hawaii and that follow-on assaults were near. Above all, no one knew how to react since this was the first time since the War of 1812 that Americans were attacked on their own soil.
As the nation was just recovering from the Great Depression, with confidence in the horizon the American people really had no desires to involve themselves in foreign wars. However, President Franklin Roosevelt was aware of the actions taking place in Europe and Asia and could anticipate the United States necessary danger to the free world if the United States didn’t take a stand in the war. While Americans favored neutrality the United States administration knew that it would only be a matter of time until the United States would enter the war.
The convenient timing of Pearl Harbor allowed Roosevelt’s open pursuit of his interventionist agenda. This along with certain details, such as the lack of aircraft carriers at Pearl Harbor, led some to believe Roosevelt had forewarned of the attack and intentionally provoked the Japanese to open the backdoor to war. Twenty three hours after the initial aggression, Roosevelt declared war and ensured that, “This day will live in infamy” in his address to Congress.
In the end Americans pulled through and became their own heroes, Admiral Yamamoto’s made a remark shortly after December 7, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping.