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Rather than crushing American morale, as the Japanese had hoped, the attack on Pearl Harbor united the country behind Roosevelt and the war. The sneak attack ignited American determination to go to war.

On December 8, 1941, the day after the attack, President Roosevelt gave his famous Pearl Harbor Speech to Congress. Following the speech, the Senate and the House voted almost unanimously to declare war on Japan. Only three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. Now the U.S. needed to be ready for a two-front war, in the Pacific and in Europe.

The first months of the war in the Pacific were more victorious for the Japanese than for the U.S. troops. The first small-scale success for the U.S. came on April 18, 1942, when American bombers attacked Japan in what became known as the Doolittle Raid. The president put Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle in charge of the mission. The idea of the mission was to load long-range bombers, rather the usual short-range, on a carrier because the long-range bombers could reach Japan from farther away. The only problem with the plan was that the long-range bombers could not land back on the carrier. They would have to land in China after dropping the bombs on the Tokyo area in Japan. The destruction caused by the American bombs in Japan was minor, but the raid boosted American confidence in the war despite

the fact that none of the American bombers reached the intended Chinese airfields after the raid, and nine men out of the crew of eighty did not survive the mission.

The Japanese were horrified by the fact that the Doolittle Raid could have killed their emperor. They decided to attack Midway Island, the last American base in the North Pacific west of Hawaii. On June 4, 1942, the Japanese launched their aircraft against Midway. They were met by intense anti-aircraft fire. The Japanese were not aware that the U.S. military had broken the Japanese code for conducting operations and, therefore, knew about the Japanese attack on Midway ahead of time. The U.S. forces were able to sink four of Japan's largest carriers during a counterattack that caused considerable damage to the Japanese navy. The Battle of Midway changed the direction of the war in the Pacific. The U.S. fleet was able to regain ground it had previously lost to the Japanese and further its advance.

During 1943 and 1944, Americans captured several islands in the Pacific, but all of them were still too far from Japan to be used as airfields for American bombers. By the time U.S. planes reached Japan, they did not have enough fuel to correct possible calculation errors before dropping the bombs, and therefore, they kept missing their targets. To solve this problem, American military planners decided to invade the island of Iwo Jima. U.S. Marines suffered massive casualties in the early 1945 battle, but eventually captured the island.

By the end of the spring of 1945, Japan was still not ready to surrender despite the large-scale firebombing of Japan's most important industrial cities.



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