The nation panicked. False reports emerged of enemy sightings over cities like New York and Los Angeles. America wondered where and when they would be hit next. Violence broke out against Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans. Yet even in the chaos, the American people united behind one idea, the desire to go to war.

That afternoon, President Roosevelt met with military and Congressional leaders to discuss the attack and how to respond. The next day, FDR gave his famous speech calling for war. A formal declaration was signed within four hours of the speech, with only one vote against it. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill travelled to America a few weeks later to create an alliance against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

America had officially joined World War Two.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his famous speech calling for war on 8 December 1941. Image from the National Archives.

Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet when Pearl Harbor was attacked, was replaced by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. FDR reportedly told Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, “Tell Nimitz to get the hell out to Pearl and stay there till the war is won!” The war in the Pacific was just beginning.

  • Child's Shirt

  • Child's Shirt

  • Child's Shirt

Child's Shirt

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans created songs, merchandise, and other items centered around the idea to “Remember Pearl Harbor”. This rallying motto served to spur on American fighting spirit and remind the nation why they fought as they entered World War Two. This is an example of such merchandise, a small child’s shirt purchased by the mother of John A. Robinson soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor. John wore it to school at Lei Aloha Kindergarten on Maui, late 1941-1942.