Attacks on American Soil: Pearl Harbor and September 11

Primary Source Set

On December 7, 1941, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked by the Japanese navy, bringing about the US entry into the Second World War. Often referred to as “waking a sleeping giant,” the attack on Pearl Harbor began a course of events that ultimately led to the defeat of the Axis Powers. The attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,403 Americans and wounded 1,178 others. Nearly sixty years later, 2,977 people died in the attacks of September 11, 2001, when suicide bombers linked to al-Qaeda hijacked four planes, flying two into the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon (a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania). These attacks led to a worldwide war against terrorism led by the United States. Both attacks caused widespread public response and xenophobia. This source set includes artifacts from both events in order to compare them.

Additional resources for research

  1. Focus On: Pearl Harbor, The National WWII Museum.
  2. After the Day of Infamy: “Man-on-the-Street” Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  3. The September 11 Digital Archive, Center for History and New Media, George Mason University.
  4. September 11: Bearing Witness to History, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

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