The Impact of Pearl Harbor on America

The Spanish American war of 1898 ended Spain’s empire in the Western Hemisphere and gave the United States the position as Pacific power. When the United States won the victory in this war it produced a peace treaty that made the Spanish give up their claims to Cuba and to cede sovereignty over Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Phillipines to the United States. The United States also gained Hawaii during this conflict.

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The United States was interested in Hawaii because of the industry of whaling and its natural resources of pineapples, sugarcane, coffee, macadamia nuts, and flowers. During this time those were the biggest industries in Hawaii however currently the leading industry is tourism. Hawaii has many big cities that people love to tour such as Honolulu, Kailua, Kaneohe, and Pearl City. There are also islands that are popular to tourists such as Kailua, Hilo, and Oahu which is home to Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor is a naval base and headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet in Honolulu county, just south of Oahu Island, Hawaii. Pearl Harbor was a beautiful island originally called Wai Momi meaning the Water of Pearl, and it was also called Pu’uloa. In the ancient stories told by the native people Pearl Harbor was home to the shark goddess Ka’ahupahau and her brother (or son), no one’s really sure which one, Kahi’uka. The gods were rumored to have lived in a cave at the entrance to Pearl Harbor and guard the waters against man-eating sharks. The ancient people depended on the gods to protect the harbors abundance of fish. Also until the late 1800s the harbor was abundant in pearl producing oysters.

Due to an agreement between the United States and Hawaii, they agreed that the United States obtained rights to Pearl Harbor and Hawaii could enter sugar into the United States duty free, the United States owned the rights to the harbor. Since the Spanish American war in 1898 the United States needed a permanent place in the Pacific Ocean, which is a big reason Hawaii became annexed, to put a naval base to have the Pacific more protected. The United States wanted to use the harbor as a navy port, but the native people hated the idea. Many were outraged and with their beliefs they thought that the gods were, or would be, outraged as well. Although the natives were outraged, the United States proceeded with the work on the harbor and in August of 1919 the harbor was opened.

Tensions between Japan and the United States began to expand so the United States made the decisions to place the Navy’s ships at the dock at Pearl Harbor for the Pacific fleet, they also had an Atlantic fleet. At the time this seemed like the smart thing to do, but it would prove fatal to the United States. The United States prepared the Navy for a war by training around the island of Hawaii. Thousands of people in the armed forces of the United States began moving to Hawaii, which added more culture to the island. With the constant training and drills being run no one expected that anything could happen to the harbor.

On December 7, 1941 the tension with Japan came to a peak. On the morning of December 7th seemed just like any other day on the harbor, but unfortunately that was not the case. The harbor was expecting planes from the mainland, the United States, and when planes were detected on the radar that were identified the lieutenant said to disregard, thinking it was the US planes and a faulty radar. Around 7:55 A.M. on December 7th the first Japanese bomber planes were over the base. The first plane was followed by around two-hundred other planes that were equipped with not only bombs but also with machine guns and torpedoes.In less than an hour the harbor was in ruins. As if the Japanese did not cause enough damage the first time, they sent a second wave of fighters to hit the base. The second wave basically destroyed the whole harbor. Many naval ships were destroyed and nearly all aircrafts. The United States used what they had and tried to fight back as much as they could, but it barely caused any damage. In total only twenty-nine Japanese planes were shot down during the attack.Unfortunately the attacks took the lives of around two-thousand Americans and injured over a thousand. In the confusion the real American planes arrived at the harbor and ended up in friendly fire because the soldiers on the naval base couldn’t tell that they were American planes and not the Japanese.

Pearl Harbor was an attack that took the United States by surprise and proved fatal to many. The lives of the American citizens were forever changed and the day went down in history as Pearl Harbor Day. Every year on December 7th people and families of lost loved ones mourn over the past. On this day we remember the lives lost of the confused and brave soldiers and civilians caught in the fire of the Japanese. The attack on Pearl Harbor led to the United States using an atomic bomb on Japan and killing around two-hundred and fifty thousand people in Japan. The effects of the atomic bomb were far worse than the effects of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but the United States had to fight back. The attacks on Pearl Harbor will forever be in the minds of Americans and will forever impact how the US sets up their navy ships. The attack on the harbor led to the United States entry into World War II and taught nations around the world that the United States stands with protecting our nation.

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