Use The Activities
Most Americans who were alive in 1941 can remember exactly where they were when they first learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For many of those who served in the armed forces, and families of those who served, the Second World War was the central event of their lives--a source of both pain and pride. The following activities are designed to help students understand some of these feelings. They will also compare how opposite sides in a battle differ in their remembrances of that battle.
Activity 1: Pearl Harbor and the Casualties of War
Activity 2: Comparing Textbook Accounts
In April 1941, Japan agreed to a Japan-USSR Neutrality Treaty in order to lessen the military threat to the north. This was followed by the occupation of the southern half of Indo-China by Japanese military forces. In consequence, the American attitude towards Japan hardened, and diplomatic relations between the two countries came to a dead end. The Tojo Cabinet conducted its business in extreme secrecy, and in the pre-dawn hours of December 8, 1941 [December 7, Honolulu time], Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked and war was simultaneously declared against the United States and England. The Pacific War was thus begun. (Donald W. Robinson, Editor, As Others See Us, International Views of American History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969.)
Ask students to cite differences between the two textbook accounts and discuss why they would differ to such a great degree. Have them develop an outline of the information they think should be included in both U.S. and Japanese textbooks. Compare the outlines and discuss differences in treatment.
Activity 3: Survivors of War
Activity 4: Examining War Memorials
Some students may have visited Revolutionary or Civil War battlefields and may have pictures to bring to class. Other students may use library books to find examples of war memorials. Have them compare memorials from different wars by listing the materials they are made of, the size of the monument, the prominence of the memorial in its surroundings, and the dedicatory inscriptions found on the memorial. Then ask them to consider why some wars have been better remembered than others. Does the type of war fought make a difference? Have styles of memorials changed over time? Do all memorials seem fitting to the event? Do they feel the USS Arizona Memorial is appropriate for its purpose?