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Student Worksheet: A Reaction to War

Think about what you have learned so far about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from the primary sources available. What do you think the reaction was to this event, both at home and abroad? Your teacher will divide you up into three different groups where you will imagine yourself as a group of Americans who are trying to assess the the impact of Pearl Harbor.


You live in Cleveland, Ohio, thousands of miles away from Pearl Harbor. You know Europe is engulfed in World War II, but that the United States is not directly involved in war. You did not support American entrance to the war in Europe, but are reconsidering since the attack on December 7, 1941. Now, there is a possibility that some close relatives and friends will enlist in the Navy and be sent abroad.

1. Your neighbors' son is stationed at Pearl Harbor, how do you feel after learning the news about the attack?

2. What is your reaction after listening to President Roosevelt’s address to the nation?

3. Has your opinion of the Japanese changed since the attack?

4. What do you plan to do after hearing this speech?

5. How might U.S. involvement in a war affect your hometown?


Navy personnel stationed at Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor was attacked only 24 hours ago. You and fellow sailors took a break from the clean up and rescue efforts to gather around the radio to listen to FDR's speech. The attack is still fresh in your mind, with the aftermath surrounding you. You also knew men killed on December 7th.

1. What are you thinking while listening to the speech? Your family at home? Your lost buddies?

2. What is your reaction towards the Japanese?

3. Do you think about the war in Europe?

4. Now that the United States is heading into war, what do you plan to do?

5. Did you expect that you would go to war while you were in the Navy?


Members of Congress

For a long time, both the Senate and the House of Representatives were divided over the war issue. There was much resistance to involvement in Europe, because the destruction of World War I still lingered in your minds. Until now, the United States had only been helping Great Britain and France indirectly. After learning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, you are sitting in a special joint session of Congress listening to President Roosevelt. Later in the day, you will vote on a Declaration of War with Japan. Until now, you were against any involvement in war. You know that because of the Axis alliance, declaring war on Japan means war with Germany and Italy.

1. Does President Roosevelt's speech change your mind about involvement in the war?

2. What is your primary concern at this point?

3. You voted against the Japanese economic embargoes in the 1930s. Has your opinion of Japan changed?

4. As an isolationist before December 7, how has this event changed your world outlook?

5. How will your home district be affected by a declaration of war?

6. Will you take any measures to protect your constituents from discrimination? (Remember this is 1941.)




Published: Wed Oct 12 11:07:09 EDT 2022