Teaching Kids About the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is a heavy subject, even for adults.  First, you must decide if your child is mature enough to absorb the weight of December 7, 1941, a day that then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “will live in infamy.”


For children that are old enough to learn about Pearl Harbor, here are a few facts that can be easily remembered as they learn about this historical day.


  •  The attacks were planned

  • December 7, 1941, was meant to be a day of rest for US Sailors, and though the attack was a surprise to us, it was an extensively planned strike by the Japanese.  Some believe that Japanese naval officer Isoroku Yamamoto began playing out war games as early as 1927 to plot a raid against Pearl Harbor.


  •  2,403 people died in the attacks
  • The deaths included 68 civilians.  Another 1,178 servicemembers and civilians were injured.


  •  Pearl Harbor led to our involvement in World War II
  • After the surprise attack, Roosevelt addressed Congress in what is known as one of the most important political speeches of the 20th century and proposed declaring a state of war with Japan.  The declaration was approved and we entered into World War II. 


  •  We rebuilt
  • Americans repaired or melted down scrap metal to build new ships after the attack.  The one ship that doesn’t fall into that category is the USS Arizona which serves as an underwater grave for more than 900 sailors who could not be recovered.



  • You can visit Pearl Harbor today
  • The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is in Honolulu.  During a visit, you can learn about the service members and civilians that died on December 7, 1941, as well as read stories of survivors.


  • The US prevails
  • On September 2, World War II ended when U.S. General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan’s formal surrender aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri, bringing an end to 2,194 days of global war.  During a radio broadcast, MacArthur said “Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won.”



    Children are innocent and as parents, we want to keep them safe and protected from the cruelty of the world for as long as we can.  It’s also important for us to teach them about significant historical markers that shaped our country.


    As you speak to your kids about Pearl Harbor and other significant events like 9/11, D-Day, and more, we feel it’s important to also teach them about the underlying spirit of Americans.  We prevail, we are resourceful, we honor the actions of our ancestors, and we never give up.




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