December 7, 1941 - Japanese aircraft attack Pearl Harbor (right). After several years of growing tensions between the United States and Japan over the latter's war in China, the Roosevelt Administration initiated an oil embargo in August 1941. Reliant on the United States for the majority of its oil, the embargo led the Japanese to begin planning operations to capture the Dutch East Indies. Believing that the US Pacific Fleet posed a threat to this plan, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto began planning for an attack on Pearl Harbor. Approved by the Emperor Hirohito, the attack force sailed on November 26. Arriving near Oahu on December 7, the Japanese carriers launched two attack waves which sank or damaged 21 ships, including all eight of the Pacific Fleet's battleships. Dubbed a "date which will live in infamy," the attack brought the United States into World War II and united the nation behind the war effort.
Photograph Coutesy of the US Naval History & Heritage Command