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December 7, 2010 > December 7, 1941

December 7, 1941

For many United States citizens, the morning of December 7, 1941 held promise of a pleasant day, attending church, visiting with friends, free from the stress of the work week. By that evening, the turmoil that engulfed Europe and Asia had spread to the United States of America. With scars and unpleasant memories of an earlier world conflict, World War I, U.S. foreign policy carefully straddled isolationist sentiment with divided opinions over German and Japanese militarism.

Negotiations with Japanese diplomats in Washington, D.C. were not going well but it was hoped that direct conflict could be avoided. While "Axis" powers continued to occupy and dominate many other countries and their territories, officially, the United States remained neutral. Unofficially, however, U.S. naval power was used to escort British convoys in the Atlantic Ocean and guard much of the Pacific Ocean; Japanese occupation of China was opposed. One of the greatest concentrations of U.S. naval assets was at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands, a U.S. Territory.

As part of a series of coordinated attacks in the Pacific, the Japanese launched a surprise "sneak attack" on U.S. Naval forces at Pearl Harbor and decimated the fleet. Shock and horror spread throughout the nation and precipitated an official declaration of war bringing the United States of America into the global conflict of World War II.

Although many U.S. citizens are too young to have personally experienced the pain of that day and can only read historical recollections and analysis, those who survived that event and the years of war that followed will always remember the morning of December 7, 1941.

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