Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese in 1941.
In 1941, the United States forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were taken by surprise when Japanese warplanes began to drop bombs on the city and naval base. Hundreds of soldiers and civilians were killed during the raid, and the Navy suffered the loss of a great number of ships and other military hardware. This event marked the American entrance into World War II.
On December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy" in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, many Americans were called upon to act as heroes. Countless Americans gave their lives in defense of our country and its citizens in Pearl Harbor. Similarly, the surprise attacks on America on September 11, 2001, called for heroic acts of selflessness from ordinary citizens, as well as firemen, police, military personnel, and other government workers. Ask students to compare these two events using the interactive Venn Diagram. How are they alike? How are they different?
How did each event change American citizens' perspectives on war and the need for war? How did the two different Presidents of the United States react? What was different about the media coverage?
The class could be divided into groups to brainstorm various aspects of this discussion and then report back to the class as a whole.
This resource from the National Archives includes the typed first draft of President Roosevelt's War Address to Congress with his handwritten edits. An audio excerpt of the speech is also available.
This page by the Naval Historical Center features a historic overview of the Pearl Harbor raid and its aftermath.
This Teacher Tool Kit contains a variety of primary and secondary sources that can be used to supplement your curriculum instruction and offer the most direct explanation of the events surrounding the attack on December 7, 1941.
This page from the Library of Congress includes a copy of the U.S.S. Ranger's Naval dispatch from Commander in Chief Pacific announcing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.