Today, December 7, is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which is observed in the United States to honor the victims who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on this day in 1941. This day or remembrance was designated by the United States Congress on August 23, 1994, and includes the tradition of flying the Flag of the United States at half-staff until sunset in honor of our dead patriots. Be sure to also take a moment today to consider this infamous date in aviation history.
History in Detail
On December 7, 1941 the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base. The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers.
All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged and four were sunk. All but Arizona were later raised, and six of them were returned to service and went on to fight during the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 US aircraft were destroyed 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. The attack was such a profound shock to the American population and it directly led to America’s entry into World War 2.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to the attack as “a date which will live in infamy”, because the attack had been launched without a formal declaration of war and without explicit warning. Once Japan had surrendered, the attack on Pearl Harbor was judged during the Tokyo Trials to be a war crime.
The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.