December history highlights

Spencer Wright, Herald Contributor

Dec. 2 

In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France by Pope Pius VII in Paris. On the same date in 1805, Bonaparte’s army defeated Russia and Austria in the Battle of Austerlitz. 

Dec. 7

In 1941, the Imperial Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. This event acted as a turning point in World War II, since it spurred the U.S. to become fully involved in the war. America started deploying troops and equipment to the Pacific and European theaters to help the other Allied forces already engaged against the Axis powers. 

Dec. 8

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech on the Pearl Harbor attack, with the famous lines, “Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy…” He urged Congress to declare war on Japan and officially enter the war in support of the other Allied forces already fighting the Axis powers in Europe. 

Dec. 11

In 1941, World War II intensified as Japan’s Axis partners, Italy and Germany, both declared war on America. The U.S. Congress immediately declared war on the two countries and President Roosevelt made defeating Adolph Hitler the top priority for the United States.

Dec. 14

In 1861, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria of England, died of Typhoid Fever at Windsor Castle. Following his death, the Queen went into an extended period of mourning. 

In 1896, World War II General James Doolittle was born in Alameda, California. He was the commander of the Eighth Air Force during the Normandy invasion and was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor, which was considered the most prestigious personal military decoration.