On December 7, 1941, Japan carried out an unexpected attack on the United States. The attack took place at Pearl Harbor, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The one day strike resulted in the loss of over 2,300 American lives, 21 ships and 300 United States military planes. In his address to Congress and the American people the following day, President Roosevelt referred to December 7 as “a date that will live in infamy.” That day is now observed as Pearl Harbor Day. Though it is not a national holiday, flags on schools and government buildings are flown at half-mast to remember Pearl Harbor and the lives that were lost on that day.
Prior to Pearl Harbor, the United States made several attempts to halt Japanese expansion into China. Embargos on airplane fuel, scrap metal and steel were placed on Japan when they took over French Indonesia. When Japan invaded Indochina, the United States, Britain and the Netherlands froze Japanese assets, making it impossible for them to acquire oil. Seeing no other way to continue on their path to controlling China and get the oil embargo lifted, Japan launched an air strike on the United States in the early morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941. The following day, in his address to Congress, President Roosevelt asked that they declare war on the Japanese Empire.
Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States was hesitant to get directly involved in World War II. Pearl Harbor was the catalyst to the United States’ entrance into the war. Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor necessitated US involvement and helped secure the win for the allies. The United States fought World War II alongside the allied forces of China, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. President Roosevelt named the allies the United Nations.