A Comparison of the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 Attacks
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7th 1941 plunged America into World War II. The attack was a stark reminder of the devastation that can be caused by surprise attacks, and the need to be vigilant against potential threats.
Similarly, the attacks on September 11th 2001 were also shocking and devastating. The 9/11 attacks were a coordinated effort by Al-Qaeda to hijack four commercial airplanes and crash them into high-profile targets in the United States.
Both attacks stunned the nation and led to a period of soul-searching. In this essay, we will compare the two attacks, looking at their similarities and differences.
2. A brief history of Pearl Harbor
The Pearl Harbor attack was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States’ entry into World War II.
The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four sunk. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded.
The damage to the base included the sinking of all eight battleships docked there: Arizona (55%), Oklahoma ( capsized), West Virginia (50%), California (50%), Nevada (30%), Pennsylvania (80%), Maryland (50%), and Tennessee (30%). All three Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers stationed at Pearl Harbor were away on missions at the time of the attack: Enterprise was off Wake Island; Lexington was en route to Midway Island; and Saratoga was in San Diego.
3. The events of September 11th
On September 11th 2001, four commercial airplanes were hijacked by 19 members of Al-Qaeda. The hijackers crashed two of the planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; one plane into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia; and one plane into a field near Shanksville in Somerset County, Pennsylvania after passengers on board fought with the hijackers.
2,977 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks; over 6,000 others were injured. The vast majority of victims were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries.
In addition to those killed or injured in the attacks themselves, many first responders – including police officers and firefighters – died while trying to rescue people trapped in the towers or evacuate buildings nearby.
4. Comparing the two attacks
The two attacks have several similarities. Both were surprise attacks that took place on a weekday morning. Both involved commercial airplanes being hijacked and crashed into high-profile targets. And both attacks resulted in a huge loss of life.
There are also some significant differences between the two attacks. The Pearl Harbor attack was a military operation carried out by the Japanese navy, while the 9/11 attacks were carried out by a terrorist group, Al-Qaeda.
The targets of the two attacks were also different. The Pearl Harbor attack was primarily aimed at the US Navy, while the 9/11 attacks were aimed at civilians.
The reaction to the two attacks was also different. The Pearl Harbor attack led to America’s entry into World War II, while the 9/11 attacks led to the War on Terror.
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a watershed moment in American history. The attack led to America’s entry into World War II, and the eventual defeat of the Japanese Empire.
The 9/11 attacks were also a watershed moment, leading to the War on Terror and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Both attacks were shocking and devastating, and they remain etched in the American memory.