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“Pearl Harbor Reflections”
by Gary Ell
Article Excerpt from: "Attack At Pearl Harbor, 1941," EyeWitness - history through the eyes of those who lived it, (1997).

The surprise was complete. The attacking planes came in two waves; the first hit its target at 7:53 AM, the second at 8:55. By 9:55 it was all over. By 1:00 PM the carriers that launched the planes from 274 miles off the coast of Oahu were heading back to Japan.

Behind them they left chaos, 2,403 dead, 188 destroyed planes and a crippled Pacific Fleet that included 8 damaged or destroyed battleships. In one stroke the Japanese action silenced the debate that had divided Americans ever since the German defeat of France left England alone in the fight against the Nazi terror.

Word of the attack reached President Roosevelt as he lunched in his oval study on Sunday afternoon. Later, Winston Churchill called to tell him that the Japanese had also attacked British colonies in southeast Asia and that Britain would declare war the next day. Roosevelt responded that he would go before Congress the following day to ask for a declaration of war against Japan. Churchill wrote: "To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all!...Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder."

On Monday, FDR signed the declaration of war granted by Congress. One day later both Germany and Italy, as partners of Japan in the Tripartite Pact, declared war on the US.

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