On this day in history - December 8th, 1941 - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

On this day in history - December 8th, 1941

President Roosevelt signs the declaration of war President Roosevelt signs the declaration of war
Aerial view of Pearl Harbor Aerial view of Pearl Harbor
The USS Arizona exploding The USS Arizona exploding

The United States declares war on the Empire of Japan following the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.

Japan planned to attack the U.S. Navy for some time before December 7th, 1941. One of Japan's main shortcomings with the waging of a successful war was its dependence on U.S. oil imports and its lack of oil reserved of its own that could be replenished. Japanese commanders believed that the Dutch East Indies, including Indonesia, would contain all the oil and rubber the Empire needed. Only two things stood between Japan and their goal: the U.S. Pacific Fleet and a paltry number of British warships. If a decisive blow could be struck against the base of operations of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, the Empire would have a free hand to capture the Dutch East Indies in its "Southern Operation." The Japanese needed haste because of the newly signed Vinson-Walsh act that planned to increase the size of the U.S. Navy by 70 percent.

At 7:48 A.M. on December 7th, the attack against Pearl Harbor commenced. All of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's aircraft carriers, the Enterprise, the Lexington and the Saratoga were not present at Pearl Harbor when the attack was launched. The Arizona took four hits from armor-piercing bombs and her magazine detonated, killing nearly all hands. Two torpedoes struck the Utah and sank her; she could not be recovered. The majority of the battleships damaged at Pearl Harbor were eventually repaired and put back into service.

2,403 Americans lost their lives in the attack and another 1,178 were wounded. The Japanese lost 64 men including the first captured prisoner of war.

The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went before Congress and delivered his Infamy Speech. An hour later, Congress passed a joint resolution declaring war which President Roosevelt signed. This is the last time the United States has declared war against another country.

On December 11th, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States to honor its Axis ally Japan.

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