An American Naval base in Hawaii where Japanese warplanes destroyed numerous ships and caused 3,000 casualties on DEC 7, 1941. Its significance is that it brought United States to join WWII.
At Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on a U.S. military base. On the night before the attack, the Japanese moved a fleet of 33 ships to within 200 miles (322 kilometers) of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the location of Pearl Harbor. More than 300 planes took off from Japanese aircraft carriers, dropping the first bombs on Pearl Harbor minutes before eight o'clock in the morning on December 7. In the harbor were 8 American battleships and more than 90 naval vessels; 21 ships were destroyed or damaged, as were 300 planes. The battleship USS Arizona was the biggest loss, going down in less than nine minutes. The sinking of the Arizona. accounted for more than half the fatalities. By the end of the raid, more than 2,300 people had been killed and about the same number were wounded.
Pearl Harbor forever changed the United States and its role in the world. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) addressed the U.S. Congress (the law-making body of the government) the next day, he called December 7 "a date which will live in infamy." As a result of Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war against Japan, and on December 11 Germany and Italy, Japan's Axis allies, declared war on the United States. The Japanese bombing had brought America into World War II, a conflict from which it would emerge as the leader of the free world (a term used for countries with a democratic government).
Further Information: Nalty, Bernard C. War in the Pacific: Pearl Harbor Tokyo Bay. Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999; Pearl Harbor Remembered. [Online] Available http://www.execp.com/~dschaaf/mainmenu.html, October 25, 2000; Smith, Carl. Pearl Harbor 1941: America Plunges into War, Vol. 62. London, UK: Greenhill Books/Lionel Leventhal, 1999.