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December 7, 2017

“A date which will live in infamy”: Pearl Harbor remembered — Class Discussion

World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors John Seelie (L), 95, and Armando “Chick” Gallela, 93, attend annual Memorial Day commemoration ceremony to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States Armed Forces, at the Intrepid museum in New York, U.S., May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz


Early in the morning of December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

By the time the assault ended, four U.S. Navy battleships had been sunk, more than 180 aircraft were destroyed and 2,403 lives were lost. The attack was the deadliest attack on American soil at the time. The next day, calling it “a day which will live in infamy,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan.

Main activity

Thursday, December 7, 2017, marks the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Watch this short clip about the morning of the attack from Ken Burns’ The War (http://www.pbs.org/video/war-pearl-harbor-attack/):

After you have watched the video, have your students read this History Channel article explaining Pearl Harbor’s influence on World War II. Then discuss the following questions as a class:

  • What did Japan hope to accomplish by launching a surprise attack against the United States?
  • Why do you think Japan chose a Sunday morning to launch its attack?
  • In what ways did the attack influence American foreign policy in its immediate aftermath?
  • Did Japan achieve its desired goal in the attack on Pearl Harbor? Why or why not?

Additional resources:

Sen. Inouye Remembered for His Courage and Service

Remembering Japan’s surrender to Allied forces — Class Activity

by Adelyn Baxter, PBS NewsHour Extra online producer

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