On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy initiated a surprise military attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor. An event that is acknowledged as the catalyst for the United States entering World War II, it has been 75 years since that fateful day. While that can seem like light-years ago, as a student of history myself, I believe it is essential to understand and remember the past to appreciate the place we stand today.
In the early 1900s, conflict had been brewing around the world. World War I had already been fought, and nations were rising and falling from the aftershock. By the 1930s, nations like Japan and Germany began invading their surrounding countries, expanding their empires by capitalizing on the rise of Nazism and militarism. Still reeling from the impact of the Great Depression, the United States was steering clear of the conflict overseas. That is, until Japan launched an unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. With more than 2,000 soldiers and sailors killed, 1,000 more injured, and mass amounts of our naval fleet destroyed in the attack, the United States knew it could not stand idly by.
A day after the events at Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan and officially entered World War II. Despite the effects from the Great Depression, the United States was still on the rise militarily and economically across the world. With their efforts alongside the Allied forces, the United States was able to win the war, defeating fascist regimes and all but declaring themselves as a world power. Since World War II, America has been on the forefront of worldwide issues, leading the charge on economic matters and existing as an essential component of foreign affairs discussions. It can be suggested, I believe, that because of the Pearl Harbor attacks and the United States’ subsequent entrance into World War II, our country became the strong, independent, and powerful nation it is today.
It is important to know our history as a nation to properly understand why our economy, military, and government operate in the manner they do today. Although today’s society is much different than what it was in the mid-1900s, the United States remains an important part of the worldview, and we should remember how the world has evolved in order to remain a leader in terms of the economy, military, and technological and medical advancements. By leading as an example we can continue to succeed and create a better country and world to live in.
December 7th marks the 75th anniversary of the battle at Pearl Harbor. More than anything else, we remember the lives that were lost that day, lives of people who had dedicated themselves to the protection of our country, to the preservation of our rights and values in an unstable world. Our military remains one of our greatest assets today, still defending those principles. Our history is multifaceted, but this week we commemorate a day that will forever live in infamy.