Pearl Harbor & 9/11

American Turning Points


  • Compare and contrast the attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 and September 11th, 2001 and the following presidential responses
  • Review primary sources related to both events
  • Open discussion of events, personal stories, memories, etc.
  • Find a ways to remember, connect and empathize for Americans & events across time.


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VIEW: A Tale of Two Days" CBS News

9/11 and Pearl Harbor: The tale of two days

VIEW: Remembering a Day of Infamy

Remembering a day of infamy

#1 What happened on those fateful days? Brainstorm with partner, review primary sources, and news/documentary clips.



Basics of the Attacks (Review the links and resources below)

  1. Who planned and carried out these attacks?
  2. How were the attacks carried out?
  3. How long did the attacks last?
  4. What were the long-term goals of those who masterminded the attacks?
  5. Did they succeed?
  6. What were the human, financial, and military tolls of the attacks?

Presidential Responses (Review the speeches/videos below)

  1. Who were the presidents at the time of these attacks?
  2. How and when did they address the nation?
  3. Compare and contrast the messages to the American people in both speeches. How were they similar? How were they different?
  4. In your opinion, did one president do a better job of assuaging the concerns of Americans, identifying a clear plan, and acting? Who and why?
  5. What was America’s overall response in both situations?

Resources w/ Some Basic Information

#2 What kind of leaders will emerge? Review FDR's Speech to Congress Following the Pearl Harbor Attack and complete analysis using APARTS.

A - Author

P - Place and Time

A - Audience (be specific, saying "Americans" isn't enough)

R - Reason for Speech

T - the Main Idea of Speech

S - So why does this source matter to us today?

America Declares War on Japan - President Roosevelt Speech [Full Resolution]

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

#3 Review Bush's Television Address in the Evening After the 9/11 Attacks. Complete analysis using APARTS.

A - Author

P - Place and Time

A - Audience (be specific, saying "Americans" isn't enough)

R - Reason for Speech

T - the Main Idea of Speech

S - So why does this source matter to us today?

George W. Bush The Night of 9-11-01

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.

America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.

Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America—with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C. to help with local rescue efforts.

Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks.

The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business, as well.

The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance.

America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism. Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me."

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Thank you. Good night, and God bless America.

Source: White House Archive

#4 Connecting to the past: Why is it easier for students to connect with the events of 9/11 over Pearl Harbor?

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#5 What is the best way to ensure that both days will live on, in a meaningful way, in the minds of future generations?

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#6 Which is more important, remembering or moving forward? Please take time to explain your thoughts.

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New York, World Trade Centers

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This activity (and above questions) can be found on the linked 9/11 memorial website. I AM VERY THANKFUL for THESE RESOURCES!

"A Narrow Escape" Lisa Leffler

10 Yr Anniversary: Pres. Bush Interview

President George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview

Seconds from Disaster: Pearl Harbor

Seconds from Disaster S04E02 Pearl Harbor HDTV XviD AFG