“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.”
So began President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his address to Congress on December 8, 1941, the day after Japan attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor 79 year ago today.
The battle laid waste to much of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Beginning at 7:55 in the morning, the attack left 2,403 soldiers or civilians dead and nearly 20 ships and 300 aircraft damaged or destroyed.
Nearly half of those killed, 1,177, died after the USS Arizona was bombed and sank. The sailors’ home became their grave as they are still buried in the ship beneath the memorial.
The battleship is still leaking oil 79 years later.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley issued a short statement commemorating the anniversary.
“Seventy-nine years ago, today, 2,335 service members lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor,” the chairman wrote on Twitter. “On behalf of a grateful nation, we will never forget the valor, heroism and leadership displayed by America’s Greatest Generation on the infamous day.”
In a touching tribute written by The Associated Press, the AP notes that survivors of the battle have had their plans to commemorate the attack cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Navy sailor Mickey Ganitch was getting ready to play in a Pearl Harbor football game as the sun came up on Dec. 7, 1941. Instead, he spent the morning — still wearing his football padding and brown team shirt — scanning the sky as Japanese planes rained bombs on the U.S. Pacific Fleet,” the AP reports.
The 101-year-old Ganitch has almost always attended the annual ceremony in Pearl Harbor to commemorate the attack. But this year, he and other survivors will have to observe from afar.
In his speech to the U.S. Congress, President Roosevelt concluded to a rousing, standing ovation:
“With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”
The U.S. Congress promptly voted to declare war against Japan, which President Roosevelt signed just three hours following his address. The vote was 82-0 in the Senate and 388-1 in the House of Representatives.
You can watch President Roosevelt’s “A Day of Infamy” speech to the U.S. Congress here. You can also watch the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet’s National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Commemoration here.
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