Thursday, May 7, 2009

Japan Bombs Pearl harbor

Posted by: Ashley Sprenkel

On Sunday, December 7, 1941 the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. This attack later, led to the United States’ involvement in World War II. “The attack was supposed to destroy American fleet units, thereby preventing the Pacific Fleet from interfering with Japanese conquest of the Dutch East Indies. It was intended as a blow against American morale, which might discourage further fighting and enable Japan to conquer Southeast Asia without interference. There were two attack waves, the primary attack, and the second wave was to finish whatever tasks remained” (3).

“In their apparently well-coordinated surprise attacks on Hawaiian Islands the Japanese have assaulted not only the hub of our strategical universe, but at Oahu, a mid-Pacific Gibralter, they hit at one of the most heavily fortified and garrisoned strongholds in the world” (1).

“They were said to come from carriers anchored off Barber’s Point. Pearl Harbor is protected from that direction, the northeast, by a range of mountains and the raiders skimmed the peaks and were almost over the naval base before they were detected. At least one plane was seen to launch a torpedo at warships in the harbor. Joseph B. Poindexter declared a state of emergency, ordered the public to stay off the streets and threw police condons to guard all roads and important intersections. The attack on Hawaii was believed designed to knock out the centers of resistance to Japan in surprise blows. The method followed was similar to the Nazi Blitzkerieg tactics, which depend largely on surprise and powerful blows at enemy bases and communication lines in the rear” (1). From an eyewitness, “Merrit Laws, who saw the beginning of the attack on pearl Harbor, said: ‘I was returning home from work and was above Pearl Harbor when I saw a bomb fall on Ford Island, in the middle of the harbor. The bomb exploded with a deafening roar. It must have been a big one. I saw two planes dive down to the water and let loose torpedoes at a naval ship. I also saw what looked like dive bombers coming over in single file. Some of the ships dived down very low over the water to aim bombs at warships’” (1).

“As soon as the information of the attacks was received by the War and Navy Department it was flashed immediately to the President at the White House. The President directed the Army and Navy to execute all previously prepared orders looking to the defense of the United States” (2). As a result the attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships and killed 2, 402 people.

The New york times seemed to have a more real perspective on the play-by-play happenings of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the article i chose, there was an eyewitness who told of what she had seen, which made the story a little more real. The Washington post sounded like it was more of the official story. They wrote about what they had heard from people who know, rather than someone who experienced it first hand.

Pearl Harbor is often compared to the “suicide attacks by the al-Qaeda that hijacked four airplanes and intentionally crashed two of the airplanes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, killing everyone on board and many working in the buildings” (4). The aftermath of the attacks devastated the American people, as did Pearl Harbor. We lost many American lives to these “surprise attacks.” There were 2,974 people who lost their lives to these hijacks.

 Works Cited:

 1. “Tokyo Bombers Strike Hard at our Main Bases on Oahu,”

New York Times. Dec. 8, 1941

 2. “War Brings Tense Day to White House Press Room,”

         The Washington Post. Dec. 8, 1941

 3. “Attack on Pearl Harbor”

 4. “September 11 Attacks”


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I find that this analysis gives adequate information regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was no doubt provided in part, if not entirely by the newspaper articles featured here. However, I feel the analysis is rather topical in its dissection of two publications' news stories. It comes across as somewhat of a play-by-play of Pearl Harbor, rather than a comparison of the two articles. Furthermore, I am unsure I understand the comparison of Pearl Harbor to 9/11. A rather unfounded assumption in my opinion as one could easily compare two wars, whether it be Vietnam, WWI, or the war in Iraq, and say they are similar simply because there were shots fired, people died and there was one nation versus another. 9/11 was a terrorist attack and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, at least from my understanding of it, was more or less a planned operation by the Japanese as war tactic. Although, I do not disagree with the statement regarding the devastation of the American people in regards to either attack, that much they both have in common.

  3. I like your style. I appreciate that you included a lot of what the newspapers reported verbatim. That allows me to make my own opinions on their coverage. I would suggest summarizing some of the reportage though. I'm sure you could say what the papers said in fewer words. Also, you state how you think the papers covered the event differently, but I'd like to know your analysis of reports and how you think they contributed to the public's understanding of Pearl Harbor.