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December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy

Last Sunday, December 7, marked a “Date That Will Live In Infamy,” as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said as he delivered a speech to Congress asking for a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan a day after Japanese forces conducted a sneak attack on the U. S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The horrible event lasted only about two hours, but in that time U. S. Naval forces suffered great loss.
The first assault wave of Japanese fighter planes attacked at 7:53 a.m. and lasted until 9:45 a.m. The first wave targeted battleships and airfields to silence the big guns of the ships and to prevent planes from taking off. The second wave of attack targeted shipyard facilities and ships. Eight battleships were damaged with five being sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels were lost along with 188 aircraft.
Japan lost 27 planes and five midget submarines. Fortunately for the United States, U. S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga were not in the harbor and therefore escaped damage. U. S. casualties included 2,403 servicemen and 68 civilians killed, and 1,178 wounded.
The attack was a complete surprise. I think shock must have been an initial reaction for most folks. Shock turned to loyalty and many volunteered for military service following the attack.
The media of radio and newspapers were the primary source of the news those days. I’m thinking that radio shows were interrupted and newspapers stopped the presses as the news of the attack came in.
President Roosevelt also said, “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.”
Three days later, Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The U. S. Congress immediately declared war on them. So, the U. S., Britain, and Soviet Russia and others were aligned against them in war.

Twenty-one ships of the U. S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged. Among those were battleships USS Arizona, USS California, USS Maryland, USS Nevada, USS Oklahoma, USS Pennsylvania, USS Tennessee and USS West Virginia; cruisers USS Helena, USS Honolulu, and USS Raleigh; destroyers USS Cassin, USS Downes, USS Helm and USS Shaw and others. One hundred eighty eight American airplanes were destroyed and 159 damaged.

A memorial was built over the sunken hull of the Arizona to honor and remember those who lost their lives there on that day 73 years ago. The Memorial is the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen who were killed in the attack.