“Yesterday, December 7, 1941— a date which will live in infamy— the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt
On Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese Naval and Air Forces attacked Pearl Harbor. Eighty years ago, that attack plunged the United States of America into World War II.
Prior to that time the United States had been somewhat of a bystander watching Hitler, Mussolini, and Emperor Hirohito wage war around the globe.
Some 2,335 members of the U S military were killed, 1,177 of those killed were aboard the battleship Arizona. Army, Navy, and Marines all took fatalities and another 61 civilians died. Some 1,114 military personnel were wounded as were 103 innocent civilians. The Imperial Japanese losses were 55.
The attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 was a decisive victory for the Japanese. It was the first in a long list of victories in the Pacific for the Japanese. While numerous ships were sunk or damaged our aircraft carriers weren’t damaged as they were at sea.
Americans were outraged, shocked, and ready to fight. On December 8, 1941, at 4:10 p.m. Eastern Time, Public Law 77-328, 55 STAT 795, was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and we were officially at war with Japan, Italy, and Germany.
Some 16.1 million Americans would go war, 405,399 were killed during this war, with 671, 268 wounded in battle, and 130,201 were taken prisoner. Of our prisoners of war, only 116,129 returned home to their families.
Today, it is estimated that only 100 Pearl Harbor Survivors are still alive. That number is a “best estimate.” For our extended family, my Uncle Al Day was with the 7th Fleet when it was attacked at Pearl Harbor. Like so many of the brave Americans that survived and went to war Chief Petty Officer Al Day passed away in 2012.
As a young boy, my Uncle Al was a heroic figure — to me. Like many members of our immediate and extended family, he served our country in our armed forces. He served on surface ships and submarines.
Yes, kids knew what Pearl Harbor was as it was still in our history books in the 70s. Sadly, few history books in our elementary, middle, and high schools even mention Pearl Harbor today.
America and our allies went on to win World War II. Americans helped rebuild a war-torn Europe and Japan. Our former enemies are now strong allies. Some of our allies are now enemies. That’s just how it is.
The heroes at Pearl Harbor helped defeat fascism, imperialism, socialism, and ended a holocaust. The world is a better place because of the sacrifices of those who served at Pearl Harbor and around the globe in World War II.
Pearl Harbor Day honors all who served at Pearl Harbor. Every December 7th our Navy, survivors, military personnel from our other branches, civilians, and family members pause to remember the sacrifice and bravery of those who paid the ultimate price for the world’s peace and freedom on that day.
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Hawaii is the site of this special remembrance. If you are fortunate, you can watch the ceremony live on some public access channels or perhaps catch this memorial tribute on local or national news.
- Pearl Harbor: Shutterstock