On December 7th, Americans commemorate Pearl Harbor Day. We remember this day as the day that the Japanese attacked America at the United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands, on December 7, 1941. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said - "a date that will live in infamy". You can view a Pearl Harbor video below.
On Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese, who were under the command of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. The attack was the culmination of a decade of deteriorating relations between Japan and the United States over the status of China and the security of Southeast Asia. This attack destroyed much of America's Pacific Fleet and brought the United States into World War II. The first wave of attacks arrived over Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m., and continued until 9:45 a.m. This day is now known as Pearl Harbor Day.
The first wave included 49 bombers, 40 torpedo planes, 51 dive-bombers and 43 fighter aircraft. The second wave included 54 bombers, 78 dive-bombers and 36 fighter aircraft.
The goal of the attack was to cripple the U.S. Fleet so that Japan could attack the Philippines and Indo-China, capturing them and securing access to the raw materials needed to maintain its position as a global military and economic power. Japan hoped to significantly injure the U.S. Pacific fleet to the point that it would take over a year to rebuild it. Unfortunately for them, the U.S. was up and running within 60 days, and the fleet was fully functional within a year.
As happened years later, on September 11th, 2001, the attack at Pearl Harbor brought American citizens together as only a great tragedy sometimes does. Families sent sons and daughters to war, women joined the work force at home while their husbands, sons and fathers were fighting overseas, and patriotism was abound. The American people rose to the challenge and ultimately triumphed in the war.
Each year, we remember Pearl Harbor Day with memorial services. December 7, 2010 is the 69th anniversary of that historical event. The Pearl Harbor Visitor's Center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is remembering Pearl Harbor Day with a commemoration and dedication ceremony titled "A Promise Fulfilled". The 69th Anniversary will honor Pearl Harbor Survivors with the commitment and promise to educate and commemorate the history and heroes of the Pacific War with new resources and a broader National Park Service mission.
The nickname for Pearl Harbor is "Gibraltar of the Pacific.
On December 8, 1941, FDR delivered his famous "Pearl Harbor Speech". You can read the text of the Pearl Harbor speech below, and watch a video of President Roosevelt delivering it to congress. I encourage you to listen to it as part of your Pearl Harbor Day remembrance.
"Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of 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." - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"Dec 7, 1941 - A date that will live in infamy" - Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor Day quote