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Hickam Field, map by the Joint Committee to Investigate Pearl Harbor, 1945–1946

In 1945 Congress established a joint committee to investigate the circumstances leading up to and following the Pearl Harbor attack. This map shows the time and number of Japanese airplanes in each wave that attacked Hickam Field, adjacent to the Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base. The committee’s majority report recommended centralizing intelligence gathering and establishing more clear-cut lines of responsibility among U.S. intelligence agencies.

Records of Joint Committees of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration

Hickam Field

World War II: Declaring War on Japan

At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Japanese naval and air forces launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with devastating results. In less than two hours, Japanese bombers destroyed 19 American naval ships and more than 300 airplanes. A total of 2,403 Americans lost their lives; 1,178 others were wounded. Speaking before a joint session of Congress the next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested a declaration of war on Japan. Congress approved the resolution in less than an hour.

That day ended isolationism for any realist.

Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan, The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg, 1941