Today is Pearl Harbor Day, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which pushed the US into World War 2. I decided to veer off from the standard lesson plans of the Colonial era and instead used primary sources from December 7th, 1941. After reviewing what a primary source is, I then played for them an except of a live broadcast as the attack happened. You can easily tell that the reporter is shocked and stunned by this.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, stunned virtually everyone in the U.S. military. American intelligence, with the benefit of intercepted Japanese messages, had known for some time that Japan was planning an assault, but military leaders had no idea precisely when and where. Hawaii, they assumed, was so far away from Japan that the Japanese navy could never mount an effective attack. Japan’s carrier-launched bombers found Pearl Harbor totally unprepared. A radio broadcast from station KTU in Honolulu the day of the attack captured the events as they unfolded over several hours. From the roof of a Honolulu office building, the radio reporter described significant damage. Apparently, he was calling New York City on the phone, while the New York station broadcast his call to the nation at large.
Below is the transcript and then the audio file.
Students then saw a newsreel that was typically shown in movie theaters before the actual movie began This one is a Japanese version of events but in English, which was more for propaganda purposes..
Here is an excerpt of a football game that was interrupted by the news of the attack:
The actual in-class activity involved reading two different perspectives on the attack. One was a transcript of President Roosevelt's address to the nation and a joint session of Congress, asking for a formal declaration of war. The other one is a propaganda piece from the Japanese government. The students then filled out the graphic organizer.
FDR Pearl Harbor speech audio:
In science, students continued with the assignment from yesterday.