On December 7th, 1941, the United States had their firsthand taste of the devastation we all associate with the Second World War, when the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service launched a squadron of 353 aircraft and attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The United States had largely shied away from being an active participant in the war up until this point, staying content to supply the British with ammunition and supplies through convoys that traveled the Atlantic. However, as one of the Axis powers, Japan feared the possibility of the United States Navy running supplies to Europe through the Pacific Ocean, and decided to launch the assault on Pearl Harbor as a way of dissuading the Americans from getting involved.
Suffice it to say, things didn't exactly go as planned.
While the attack on Pearl Harbor was devastating and shocking to the American people, it ended up being the push needed to get America to commit to the war in its entirety, by providing an influx of troops, resources and intelligence that the Axis had not counted on having to face until they had already conquered Europe. Between their entry into the war and the increased retaliation from within Europe and from the Soviet Union, this more or less signaled the beginning of the Axis's downfall.
While the Pearl Harbor attack ultimately led to a massive positive outcome, the memories of that horrific day are still all-too real for those who survived it, and those people are offered a special honor that no others can receive.