MiamiHerald / Few events in World War II were as defining as the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The “date which shall live in infamy” — as President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously put it — prompted the American entry into the war, subdued an entrenched isolationist faction in the country’s politics and, in the long run, prefigured Washington’s assumption of the role of global superpower.

On a Sunday morning 76 years ago today, 2,403 Americans died in Peal Harbor and 19 vessels were either sunk or badly damaged in the attack , which involved more than 350 warplanes launched from Japanese carriers that had secretly made their way to a remote expanse of the North Pacific. It caught the U.S. brass in Hawaii by surprise and stunned the nation.

“With astounding success,” Time magazine wrote , “the little man has clipped the big fellow.”

But the big fellow would hit back. Japan’s bold strike is now largely seen as an act of ” strategic imbecility ,” a move born out of militarist, ideological fervor that provoked a ruinous war Japan could never win and ended in mushroom clouds and hideous death and destruction at home.


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