80 years ago today, the Empire of Japan launched a devastating surprise attack against American forces stationed in Hawaii. The bombing thrust the nation into a global conflict that would ultimately kill 80 million people.
This is the story of Pearl Harbor.
July 1941: Washington enacts a strict oil embargo against Tokyo to slow the brutal invasion of eastern Asia. As diplomatic negotiations break down, advisors warn President Franklin Roosevelt of a potential attack against the United States.
With Japan’s oil reserves dwindling, the Emperor decides to act.
At 7:55AM the morning of December 7th, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the emblem of the ‘Rising Sun of Japan’ descends from the clouds above Oahu.
400 warplanes follow closely behind.
In less than 90 minutes, 2403 Americans are killed. 4 battleships are sunk. 200 planes destroyed.
The following day, FDR addressed the nation, referring to the surprise assault as a ‘Date which will live in Infamy’. Congress then approved a Resolution of War between the US and Japan.
The country had officially entered World War 2.
ON THIS DAY: 1945, Nazi Germany Surrenders to the Allied Forces One Week After Hitler's Suicide
On May 7th 1945 -one week after Adolf Hitler’s suicide in a Berlin bunker- his successor Karl Donitz authorized the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied Forces, which was signed by General Alfred Jodl.
Less than four years earlier, Germany, Italy, and Japan declared war against the United States…
Chaos would ultimately consume 28 countries and stretch from Great Britain to Russia; Sicily to Sweden… Encompassing more than 3-million square miles of territory.
Hitler’s Germany -controlling more than 20 different countries at its height- would lose it all, including 7 million lives, $23 billion in reparations paid to the Allies, and thousands of technology patents seized by US agents to help fight the looming Cold War.
In all, historians believe anywhere from 15-25 million people perished in Europe alone; more than twice as many than died in the First World War.
World War II was the most destructive event in history. 4-percent of the world’s population was wiped out. 80 million deaths. More than 60 million European civilians displaced, 27 million leaving their countries or driven out by force. 6 million Jews killed in concentration camps.
ON THIS DAY: 1863, General Robert E. Lee Orders His Troops to Advance Towards Gettysburg
On June 29th, 1863, General Robert E. Lee directed his Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to advance on the small town of Gettysburg in rural Pennsylvania.
Lee had done the unthinkable and invaded the North. Less than five days later he would suffer the most consequential defeat in American history, a loss that cleared the path for the Union Army to win the Civil War.
On the morning of July 1, advance units of both forces came into contact with each other just outside of Gettysburg. The sound of battle attracted other units, and by noon the conflict was underway.
The bloody battle waged for another two days.
Out of desperation, Lee ordered “Pickett’s Charge.” The maneuver will go down as one of the worst military decisions of the entire war.
Both armies, exhausted, held their positions until the night of July 4, when Lee withdrew.
The Army of the Potomac was too weak to pursue the Confederates, and Lee led his army out of the North, never to invade it again.
In its totality, the Civil War was fought in 10,000 places from Vermont to Arizona, claiming the lives of 700,000 Americans.