Many have compared the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 to the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. They argue that both attacks were just as astonishing, unwarranted and unpredictable. The World Trade Center buildings in New York City still lie in ruin, an icy reminder of the terrorist attack. Both the U.S.
S. Arizona and the U.S.S Utah remain on the floor of Pearl Harbor, each a ghostly, decaying tomb reminding all of the thousands that gave their life on that fateful day, also, they are both reminders of seemingly how easily the attack was carried out and of how America, the worlds big brother and perhaps the most powerful nation in the history of the world, was caught with ‘its guard down.’ The attacks are also similar in that, generally, those who lived through them divide time: time before the attack and time after. After Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan, and thus Germany and Italy with the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact and latter the Tripartite Pact, and after was slingshot into the Cold War, and after the September 11 attack, concepts that may have been unthinkable before the attack are being considered such as torturing detainees and racial profiling and, arguably, security has been further fortified in airports and other public places.
Both attacks were turning points in American history; they had and will have profound effects on life after them. The details of the September 11 attack are still buried in distant lands while the on Pearl Harbor happened over 60 years ago; therefore most of the documents and information concerning the attack have been released. When analyzing the documents and accounts of the Pearl Harbor attack, historians are not able to avoid the fact that many warning signs of the approaching attack existed. The neglect of these signs can, in most cases, be attributed to some sort of human error in dealing with those signs. Although human error played a large part in the reason that those in power did not take further advantage of those signs, it was not the only reason. Most of the signs were neither tangible nor very specific of the location, date or degree of ferocity at which Japanese would attack.
Another reason is that for years before the attack, a feeling of isolation and thoughts that the United States need not interfere in European matters presided over the minds of many Americans. But those reasons aside, the United States should have been more prepared for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japans imperialistic and expansionist doctrines that dominated Asiatic and Pacific goings-on for years before the attack caused the Japan-United States relations, that had been deteriorating for years, become increasingly hostile. The United States also received general warnings of the attack from men, such as Joseph Grew. However, perhaps the most convincing and specific signs, came in the early morning hours of December 7, from a string of radar that were to guard the harbor and from patrolling vessels that spotted Japanese submarines that morning. All four of these aspects should have warned Washington of the impending attack.
On November 26, 1941, all six Japanese aircraft carriers and over four hundred aircraft left Hitokappu Bay, in northern Japan, headed for Pearl Harbor, the operating base for the United States’ Pacific Fleet. Pearl Harbor is located on the southern end of Oahu Island, Hawaii. In the early morning hours of Sunday, December 7, they attacked swiftly and efficiently. This is the account of George Phraner, who was aboard the U.S.S.
Arizona when the 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb hit its forward magazine. He recalls:
We could hear and see there were airplanes. I looked across the bow of the ship and could see large plumes of smoke coming up from Ford Island. At first, we didn’t realize it was a bombing. It didn’t mean anything to us until a large group of planes came near the ship and we could see, for the first time, the rising sun emblem on the plane wings.a deafening roar filled the room and the entire ship shuttered.
It was .