Sunday, December 7, 1941
“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked…” These were the portentous opening words of President Roosevelt’s speech to Congress following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Seventy-six years later, and on the anniversary of President Roosevelt’s speech, we remember the turning point of America’s position in World War II.
Early that Sunday morning, when many Americans were still waking up, the first Japanese bomber was spotted. Before long, over 300 Japanese bombers were flying over Pearl Harbor raining destruction. The Japanese loss was minute compared to American losses. “Some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men” were lost by the Japanese. The American loss amounted to “five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships[,] sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft.” By the end of the attack, over 3,600 Americans were either killed or wounded.
Such a move by the Japanese was enough to bring the United States into the war. Thus, President Roosevelt gave his famous speech asking Congress to agree to a declaration of war against Japan. They agreed by a landslide. Within a few days, Germany and Italy retaliated by declaring war on the United States, and America became fully engaged in World War II.
Although most of us alive today don’t know what it was like to wake up 76 years ago and discover the U.S. had been attacked, we can still remember those who defended our country on that day and every day since. Let us never forget those who have gone before to defend this nation and help shape it into what it is today. Never forget where we’ve come from, and we will see where we’re going.