Pearl Harbor Day marks the anniversary of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in 1941, bringing the United States into World War II and widening the European war to the Pacific.
The bombing, which began at 7:55 a.m. Hawaiian time on a Sunday morning, lasted little more than an hour but devastated the American military base on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. Nearly all the ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were anchored there side by side, and most were damaged or destroyed; half the bombers at the army’s Hickam Field were destroyed. The battleship USS Arizona sank, and 1,177 sailors and Marines went down with the ship, which became their tomb. In all, the attack claimed more than 3,000 casualties—2,403 killed and 1,178 wounded.
On the following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a solemn Congress to ask for a declaration of war. His opening unforgettable words: “Yesterday, December 7, 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.” War was declared immediately with only one opposing vote, that by Rep. Jeannette Rankin of Montana.
In the months that followed, the slogan “Remember Pearl Harbor” swept America, and radio stations repeatedly played the song of the same name with these lyrics:
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, as we go to meet the foe,
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, as we did the Alamo.
We will always remember, how they died for liberty,
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, and go on to victory.
Originally published as part of a post from December 7, 2010.