Dec. 7th: National Pearl Harbor Day
Tomorrow, "a date that will live in infamy," is the 81st anniversary of the bombing of Naval Base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. So that we never forget this tragic day in history, National Pearl Harbor Day is commemorated annually across the United States. On this important holiday, American flags are lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset in solemn remembrance of the 2,403 people whose lives were lost. Though these events seem so far in our past, we mustn't forget the magnitude of these attacks.
What happened on the day Pearl Harbor was attacked?
On the morning of December 7, 1941, the naval base located in Hawaii, Pearl Harbor, was suddenly and surprisingly attacked by Japan. The strike killed 2,403 service members and wounded another 1,178. The strike involved hundreds of Japanese fighter planes and a 1,800-pound bomb that Japanese forces dropped on the deck of the USS Arizona, followed by torpedoes that hit the USS Oklahoma. The USS Arizona eventually exploded and sank. In less than two hours, the attack was over.
The attack sank four battleships, damaged four others, damaged about another 15 naval vessels, destroyed 188 aircraft, and damaged another 159. Though this was an impactful hit, the attack, fortunately, left oil storage deposits, repair shops, shipyards, and submarine docks intact, enabling the Navy to bounce back quickly. Hours after the incursion, Canada declared war on Japan. One day later, the United States of America declared war on Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy (part of the Axis Powers) declared war against the United States which led Congress to declare war on the European Powers, and the United States officially joined World War II.
Three of the naval ships USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, and USS Utah, have been memorialized to commemorate those who lost their lives on this tragic day. The USS Arizona Memorial is a marble memorial constructed over the sunken battleship that could not be salvaged, along with USS Utah. The monument was dedicated on May 30, 1962, to honor the 1,177 crew members who perished. The USS Oklahoma Memorial salutes the 429 men who died, and the USS Utah Memorial observes the 58 lives lost.