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The United States had been practicing isolationism officially. They were staying out of it. They were sending weapons and men to help fight. When the attack occured America realized that this was indeed a world war and a nation as powerful as America would have to choose a side. Naturally they wanted to attack Japan in retaliation, but decided that Germany and Europe was more important. They sent the bulk of the armed forces their, but kept enought to take back the Pacific and destroy Japan. The United States was basically shocked into action.

The attack on Pearl Harbor brought the USA into war. The attack also caused a permanent end to isolationism in US Foreign policy.

The Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941

December 7, 2009

Last week we had President Obama's less-than-rousing Afghanistan war speech, trying to have it both ways by dispatching more troops while promising a scheduled departure. And not once using the word "victory."

Today, coincidentally, is the 68th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, where shortly the 44th president will fly with his family and White House entourage for a holiday vacation. Few Ticket readers will remember the shock that swept the country that quiet Sunday, not unlike 9/11 would do 60 years later. And the millions of lives affected by those events.

So here as a political refresher are two historic videos -- one about the actual attack itself by 350 planes from Imperial Japanese aircraft carriers more than 200 miles away.

The other video includes President Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous war speech the very next day, the one saying that Dec. 7, 1941, would live in infamy. And here we are 24,837 days later remembering.

It was 68 years ago that a news bulletin bringing sweeping changes to the American way of life crackled over the AM radio in Malcolm T. Smith's car as he drove to work at the new Reynold's Aluminum plant in Sheffield.

The bulletin announced Japan had attacked the United States with a surprise raid on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

"I think everybody was surprised to hear we had been attacked," said Smith, 93.

"When I got to work that morning, everybody was talking about Pearl Harbor and what they were going to do about it."

Many of his co-workers volunteered for military duty. Within a year, Smith, who now lives in Tuscumbia, was in the U.S. Navy.

His wife, Grace, followed him to California, where he was sent for training, and she went to work in a tailor shop in San Diego, altering uniforms for sailors.

"All of the sailors wanted their uniforms to fit tight. They wanted their shirts so tight they could barely get it over their head to put it on," she said.

"I would take up their uniforms to make them fit the way they wanted them to. That was my way of doing something for the war."

Ronald Pettus, of Athens, an expert on Shoals history and a former history teacher at Brooks High School in Killen, said the attack on Pearl Harbor changed America in a way never seen before or since.

Four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States and America was suddenly helping fight World War II in both the Pacific and Europe.

Pettus said the United States' response to suddenly being thrust into the war was amazing.

"The Japanese caught America completely unprepared for war," he said. "But the country came together and almost overnight we put together a military like no other in the world. By 1942, we were up and rolling.

"Everybody helped out with the war effort. The kids here at home would go around their neighborhoods collecting scrap metal and paper for the war. Women saved grease from their kitchen that was used to make gunpowder. Women all over the country went to work in defense plants building tanks, airplanes, bombs and other military equipment. Everybody wanted to do their part to help win the war."

The Sunday morning attack caused extensive damage to the Navy's fleet based at Pearl Harbor. There were 21 ships sunk or damaged, 188 airplanes were destroyed and 159 were damaged. There were 2,403 American casualties, including 68 civilians. The first Colbert County resident killed in World War II, Thomas Stegar Sanford, died onboard the USS Arizona.

Grace Smith said she was at home getting ready for church when she learned of the attack.

"I was shocked and scared when I heard on the radio what had happened at Pearl Harbor," she said.

Pettus said Americans were so angered by the attack that many flooded military recruiting offices when they opened the following morning, wanting to volunteer for duty. Congress declared war on Japan that day.

"There has never been anything that unified America as much as the attack on Pearl Harbor," Pettus said. "The 9/11 attacks came close, but that unification began to wane after just a few weeks."

Pettus said it would have been difficult for anyone living in America during World War II to not become involved in the war effort. He said every family in the Shoals and almost every community in the nation either had someone who was in the military during World War II or knew someone who was in the armed forces. The United States had 16 million men and women serve in the armed forces during the war.

Richard Sheridan, of Sheffield, who was 12 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, recalls the strong sense of patriotism that swept the western Kentucky community where he grew up.

"Everybody took ownership of the war effort and we all wanted to do all we could to help," Sheridan said. "We were proud of our country and our military."

Malcolm Smith, who spent his Navy career as a ship's barber, recalls the support for the war effort continuing after the fighting had ended. On his way home from the war, Smith recalled how he and a group of sailors he was traveling with received a hero's welcome in North Platte, Neb.

"The people there welcomed us to their city like you wouldn't believe," he said. "They had all the food and goodies you could think of spread out for us. I will never forget that."

Although President Franklin D. Roosevelt predicted in his address to the nation on the day following the Pearl Harbor attack that Dec. 7, 1941, would be a day that would "live in infamy," Pettus fears than younger Americans are forgetting the significance of the date.

"Some of our schools are not putting as much emphasis on teaching the history of World War II as they used to," he said. "That concerns me because I'm not sure if there was another incident like Pearl Harbor that we would be able to rise to the occasion like we did then. The attack on Pearl Harbor is an important part of our history and we must make sure it is never forgotten."

With more than 1,000 World War II veterans dying every day in the United States, Pettus said many of the stories about the war are fading fast.

Horace B. Carpenter, of Sheffield, who served on the USS Goshen in World War II, said only 10 of his shipmates, three widows of shipmates and the son of a shipmate attended a reunion of the ship's crew that was staged in the Shoals in October. The veterans traveled from as far away as Oregon, New Mexico and New York. Family members and friends of the veterans, about 50 people, attended the two-day reunion. When the reunions began about 30 years ago, more than 100 veterans would attend the annual gatherings that have been held throughout the country.

Carpenter said fewer than 20 members of the original crew of 500 crew members of the Goshen survive. "There's not many of us left. We're dying out fast," he said.

Pettus said he would like to see younger Americans make a point of thanking veterans who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and all of those who were in World War II.

"We owe those men and women a huge debt of gratitude," Pettus said. "They saved our country and the world."

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Q: How did the attack on Pearl Harbor change the position of the United States with respect to the war itself?
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Related questions

Was Pearl Harbor Axis or Allied powers?

Pearl Harbor is in Hawaii, which is part of the United States. At the time Pearl Harbor was bombed, the United States had not yet decided to join the war. The United States were neutral.Japan was the country that bombed Pearl Harbor. Japan was an Axis Power.Because of the bombing, the United States decided to join the war. The United States became an Allied Power.

What territory is Pearl Harbor in?

Pearl Harbor is in Hawaii, United States of America

What happened to the United States after the Attack on Pearl Harbor?

The United States declared war on Japan.

What county is oak harbor Washington in?

Oak Harbor , Washington is in the United States ! I live there(:

Who was president of the United States when Pearl Harbor the attack?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the President of the United States when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Who declared war on the United States after Pearl Harbor?

Well, we declared war on Japan after Pearl Harbor was bombed. And then after we did that, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Did pearl harbor change anything?

Pearl Harbor brought a dramatic change on the United States views on World War II. The United States wanted to maintain neutral and prevent entering war, but once the Japanese bombed the United States at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, the United States changed their mindset and decalred war.

What were the countries in Pearl Harbor?

The only country involved was the United States. Pearl Harbor is located in the current state of Hawaii. At the time of the attack by Japan, Pearl Harbor was located in the United States TERRITORY of Hawaii.

Was the United States expecting the attack on Pearl Harbor?

The attack of Pearl Harbor was inevitable. the United States were cutting back on oil supplies from the Japanese in return was retaliation of Japan. Knowing of the attack on pearl harbor maybe but going to a no. An attack on the United States from the Japanese, yes because of retaliation.

Was china involved in Pearl Harbor?

No. China was not involved in Pearl Harbor. Japan attacked the United States in Pearl Harbor. China, however, had been at war with Japan for several years when Japan attacked the United States.

Which countries were involved in Pearl Harbor?

Japan attacked the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor.

Why is Pearl Harbor significant to history?

The attack on Pearl Harbor is what brough the United States into WW2

Who responded to the Japanese attack on pearl harbor?

the united states responded to the attack on pearl harbor.

What was Hitlers Response to Pearl Harbor attack?

What happened was when the Japanese attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan and Germany being allied with Japan declared war on the United States.

What country owns Pearl Harbor?

Pearl Harbor is in Hawaii, one of the 50 states that make up the United States of America.

What if the Japanese didn't attacked Pearl Harbor?

If the Japanese did not attacked Pearl Harbor the United States will forgive Japan. The Japanese shouldn't be attacking Pearl Harbor. The United States will not attack Japan if the Japanese leave Pearl Harbor alone without attacking the US.

What country is Pearl Harbor Hawaii in?

United States Of America

Is dredged harbor a physical feature in the United States?


Who did the bombing of Pearl Harbor involve?

Japan and United States

Who was the dictator at Pearl Harbor?

Pearl Harbor doesn't have a dicatator. Pearl Harbor is part of the Hawaiin Islands and is part of the United States.

Where did the major event of Pearl Harbor take place?

At a harbor in Hawaii, in the United States, called Pearl.

What was the signifigance of the attack of Pearl Harbor?

The attack on Pearl Harbor is how the United States became involved in WW2

How far is America to Pearl Harbor?

Pearl Harbor is in Hawaii. Hawaii is a part of the United States of America.

Who were the people in the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States Military was attacked.

What was Franklin Roosevelt's position on world war ii before pearl harbor?

He wanted to help the Allies. He wanted the united states to join the war against Germany. :))