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December 7, 2018

Lesson plan: Pearl Harbor remembered – “A date which will live in infamy”

World War II veterans at Pearl Harbor John Seelie (L) and Armando “Chick” Gallela attended 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

Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, marks the 77th 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:

  • Why did Japan launch a surprise attack against the United States
  • What impact do stories have when they are told directly from those individuals who were there, like World War II veterans at Pearl Harbor John Seelie (L) and Armando “Chick” Gallela featured in the photo above?
  • In what ways did the attack on Pearl Harbor influence American foreign policy?
  • What key events transpired after the attack?

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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