In his speech to Congress following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt described December 7, 1941 as “a date which will live in infamy”.
About 360 Japanese planes launched from six different aircraft carriers attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii. The Sunday morning attack achieved total surprise. The battleships Arizona and Oklahoma were destroyed. The California, Nevada, and West Virginia sank in shallow water. Numerous other vessels were also damaged. More than 180 aircraft were destroyed. More than 2,300 military personnel were killed and about another 1,100 injured. The Japanese lost fewer than 100 men.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet was crippled by the attack, but the three fleet aircraft carriers were not in port at the time of the attack. The Japanese also missed the opportunity to destroy large oil storage facilities on the island.
On December 8, President Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war against Japan, which was granted with only one dissenting vote. The attack unified popular support for the war and served as a rallying cry throughout the conflict.
Today, the National Park Service runs the USS Arizona Memorial, which “is the final resting place for many of the battleship’s 1,177 crew members” and “commemorates the site where World War II began for the United States”.
- Pearl Harbor
History.com presents articles on Pearl Harbor and World War II; includes videos, photo gallery, and related links.
- “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”: FDR Asks for a Declaration of War
The “History Matters” website offers the beginning of FDR’s speech to Congress asking for a declaration of war. Text and audio available.
- USS Arizona
National Park Service site for the USS Arizona Memorial. Information about visiting the memorial is available along with articles, photos, and videos about the attack on Pearl Harbor.