WEST MONROE, LA. (KTVE/KARD)– Just before 8am on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese made a devastating surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base near Honolulu, Hawaii. More than 2,000 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, another 1,000 were wounded.
“The attack on Pearl Harbor was the single event that made it impossible for the United States to remain neutral in WWII,” Dr. John Sutherlin, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, said.
Only one day after the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked congress to declare war on Japan, thrusting the United States into WWII.
“And as Churchill said ‘Japan has awoke a sleeping giant’ and America’s entry into WWII certainly tipped the balance towards the allies,” Sutherlin said.
Many of our war-birds and battleships were destroyed or heavily damaged, including 20 American naval vessels, eight battleships, and over 300 airplanes.
Dr. Sutherlin said this changed the way America manufactures.
“The resulting cost was billions of dollars, millions of lives, a transformation of the US economy, the introduction of women into the workforce, the desegregation of the army. Pearl Harbor begins a point that fundamentally alters the landscape of the United States,” Sutherlin said.
Sutherlin said the older generation remembers Pearl Harbor the way we remember the events on 9/11.
“Pearl Harbor was significant because it changed the way Americans deal with foreign policy and in many we ways, we are still under the umbrella of that,” Sutherlin said. “For young people who remember 9/11 more, 9/11 certainly reinforced the memories of Pearl Harbor.”
Unfortunately because of the Coronavirus pandemic, many annual remembrance ceremonies are not happening this year, including the one hosted by the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum.