“…December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy…”

In the United States the news first broke at 2:26 p.m. EST, December 7, 1941, in a series of radio bulletins.

From Wikipedia:

This is an address given by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., on December 8, 1941, in response to the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

On this day, President Roosevelt noted to a Joint Session of Congress that Japan had attacked the island of Oahu, in the Territory of Hawaii, the previous day. Based on the circumstances behind the attacks, and the consecutive attacks against American interests and Southeast Asia that followed, he made the argument that in the preceeding weeks, Japan had negotiated for continued peace with the United States under false pretenses.

He finished his speech with a request for Congress to make a formal declaration of war against Japan, thus entering the United States into World War II.

Listen to the speech here:
FDR addresses Joint Session of Congress, 8 December 1941

The transcript:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: Yesterday, December 7th, 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.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. 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.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

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 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

* * * * * * *

The site also gives an extensive background of events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well an impressive array of photographs, charts, and maps. It is an impressive page at Wikipedia, which deserves reading, and includes details such as these:

Casualties and losses*
4 battleships sunk,
4 battleships damaged including 1 run aground
2 destroyers sunk, 1 damaged
1 other ship sunk, 3 damaged
3 cruisers damaged

188 aircraft destroyed
155 aircraft damaged,
2,345 military killed
1,247 military wounded
57 civilians killed
35 civilians wounded
4 midget submarines sunk,
1 midget submarine run aground,
27 aircraft destroyed,
55 airmen killed
9 submariners killed
1 submariner captured


The photo above, from Wikipedia, was taken “from a Japanese plane of Battleship Row at the beginning of the attack. The explosion in the center is a torpedo strike on the USS West Virginia.

“Photo #: NH 50930 Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941 Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base

“Japanese caption on this captured photo reads:

Full view of Ford Island gasping under the attack of our Sea Eagles. This distant view of Ford Island immediately after the attack of our assault force shows the enemy capital ships lined up on the opposite side of the Island. in the foreground is the cruiser fleet, including the battleship UTAH. The enemy ships around the island have all become tempting targets for our Sea Eagles. In the upper right clearly appear the outlines of two of our Sea Eagles who are carrying out a daring low-level attack, reminiscent of the performance of the Gods.

A larger view of the photo is here.


Photo #: 80-G-19942 (above)
Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

USS Arizona (BB-39) sunk and burning furiously, 7 December 1941. Her forward magazines had exploded when she was hit by a Japanese bomb. At left, men on the stern of USS Tennessee (BB-43) are playing fire hoses on the water to force burning oil away from their ship. –Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.

The USS Arizona memorial, today (below). At today’s annual remembrance in Hawai’i, organizers are expecting between 40 and 50 survivors of the attack. Overall, some 2,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony on a pier overlooking the spot where the Arizona sank.

The bodies of more than 1,000 sailors and Marines are still on board, and small drops of oil continue to rise from the submerged battleship.



The Freedom Wall (below) is on the west side of the World War II memorial in Washington, DC (artist’s rendition above), with a view of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial behind it. The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war.


Here is a Pearl Harbor Timeline by Robert Sullivan.


* Total number killed in attacks on September 11, 2001 (official figure as of 9/5/02): 2,819

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