Pearl Harbor Remembrance: Pearl Harbor Attack “Date in Infamy” December 7, 1941

Pearl Harbor Remembrance with taps at Arlington Heights Historical Museum on December 7, 2008 with excerpts from Franklin D. Roosevelt “date in infamy” speech from December 8, 1941.

The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters (Operation Z in planning) was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941.


The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States.

The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two attack waves. The fighters were launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships at Pearl Harbor were damaged. Four were sunk. All but two of the eight battleships were raised, repaired and returned to service later in the war.

The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer.

One hundred eighty-eight U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded.

The power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities at Pearl Harbor, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.

The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. On December 8, 1941 the United States declared war on Japan. Domestic support for isolationism, which had been strong, disappeared. Clandestine support of Britain (for example the Neutrality Patrol) was replaced by active alliance. Subsequent operations by the U.S. prompted Germany and Italy to declare war on the U.S. on December 11, which was reciprocated by the United States the same day.

About 120 survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor observed a moment of silence to commemorate the Japanese attack and the thousands who lost their lives that day 70 years ago Wednesday.


Rescuing a survivor near the USS West Virginia (Photo 80-G-19930).