National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is observed annually on Dec. 7 to honor all the people who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in 1941. The unprovoked attack by the Japanese on the United States Navy’s Pacific fleet was swift, devastating and forced the country to enter World War II.

War had been raging for several years as the AXIS powers - Nazi Germany, Italy and Spain in Europe – and Japan in Asia spread their dark wings. But in the U.S. there was still no drumbeat among American citizens to enter those conflicts. Americans were concerned, but cautious.

Gallup Polls taken in 1940 and 1941 prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor showed the following responses:

“If you were asked to vote on the question of the United States entering the war against Germany and Italy, how would you vote - to go into the war, or to stay out of the war?” 12 percent said we should go in, while 88 percent said we should stay out.

The polls also showed that:

60 percent of Americans felt that American interests - and perhaps even safety - were directly tied to the survival of England.

68 percent supported our supplying the British with whatever they needed in terms of materials to defend themselves – as long as it didn’t mean directly participating in the war on our part.

86 percent felt we should stay out of all of it - unless directly attacked - or if Brazil, Argentina, Chile, or any other Central or South American country were attacked by Germany.

In short, Americans didn’t want any active military part in hostilities unless there was simply no other choice. Obviously, the attack on Pearl Harbor settled the matter; after that, here WAS no other choice.

Once the numbers were finally in for the attack that Sunday, they were stunning: 2,403 Navy, Army, Marine personnel and civilians were dead, with 1,178 wounded

The long-term effects of the actions of the Japanese and their AXIS counterparts over the course of World War II would result in over 400,000 American dead in the war. And the world-wide totals are staggering almost beyond belief. According to, 20,858,900 military personnel were killed, 27, 372, 900 for a total of 48,231,700 lives lost in the war.

The courageous actions of those who fought at Pearl Harbor that Sunday served as an inspiration to all Americans throughout the war and if not for them the entire American Pacific fleet might have been lost, in which case the cost to the United States of America would most certainly have been incalculably more devastating. Even a Japanese invasion of the West Coast might have been the result.