Eighty years ago, Japan conducted a surprise air attack on the military base of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, plunging the United States into WW2. A day after, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress, famously calling the attack a “date which will live infamy,” announcing that the war had reached home and that America had no other choice but to fight.
This was the largest attack on the American mainland at the time. More than 2,000 American soldiers died during the attack, and a majority of the U.S. battleships were destroyed. The attack left the American pacific fleet temporarily crippled, leaving the Japanese Imperial Army a free hand to expand its iron grip over the pacific. Just a few days after the attack, Germany declared war on America.
The world had been in turmoil for years. In 1940 France fell, forcing Britain and its empire to stand alone for a year. Just months earlier, Germany had invaded the depths of the Soviet Union, unleashing the bloodiest front of the war.
America had been deeply divided over the war, with FDR lending support to the Allies despite strong isolationist opposition to the war. After December 7, there was no more debate, America had only one goal: Victory.
Millions of Americans joined the global struggle against Nazi Germany and Japan. Those who stayed at home fueled the war industry. Americans fought in all fronts: in the cold waters of the Atlantic, the jungles of the Pacific, the desert of North Africa, the French fields, and the German airspace.
The war required an unprecedented commitment of the entire country, the entire nation moved in favor of the war effort. Women took a leading role in American industry, which produced the tanks, bullets, weapons, and the food necessary to win the war, American CEOs worked for $1 salaries in support of the war effort, scientists developed groundbreaking technology, citizens bought war bonds to fund the effort, and even Hollywood made used their creativity to support the war effort.
After four years of war and more than 400,000 American deaths, the war was over. In May, Germany surrendered after the Soviets took Berlin, while Japan did the same after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world’s fate was on the brink during those years, and if it weren’t for America’s ingenuity, resources, blood, and manpower the world would surely have sunken into the abyss of fascist rule.
Today, eighty years after that fateful day, we remember the brave men who answered the call of duty and gave us the free world we have been enjoying for almost a hundred years.
The national effort in WW2 reminds us that America when tested, will always deliver. That is something that both Americans at home and foes abroad should forever remember.