Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Seventy-one years ago, at 7:55 a.m. a Japanese attack led by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto codenamed “Operation Z” attacked the United States at its Hawaiian naval and air stations leading the nation into World War II.
On that day 2,335 U.S. service members were killed and 1,143 were wounded along with 68 civilian deaths and 35 suffering wounds.
The Japanese lost 65 men.
On that Sunday morning seven of the eight U.S. battleships were lined up in “battleship row.” The battleship Arizona exploded when a bomb hit its forward magazine, killing 1,100 U.S. sailors on board. It remains one of the primary memorials at Pearl Harbor to this day.
It should be noted that all eight battleships were either sunk or damaged during the Japanese surprise attack. Six of the battle wagons returned to service following the sneak attack.
In addition to the attack on the naval facility at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked and destroyed aircraft at Hickman Field, Wheeler Field, Bellows Field, Ewa Field, Schoefield Barracks and Kaneohe Naval Air Station. Many of the U.S. aircraft were lined up on the airfields wingtip to wingtip, making them easy targets for the Japanese pilots bombing and strafing the fields.
The day following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said those famous words: “December 7, 1941 is a date that will live in infamy.” He made that statement in a speech to Congress, asking for a declaration of war on Japan.
Today, few veteran service members are alive. However, this day continues to remind all Americans that we must remain vigilant in the defense of our nation.
Historically, Pearl Harbor Day has been commemorated to sear that historic act of war on the minds of Americans. However, the day is less and less on the minds of this generation of Americans. It has in many ways given way to 9/11, the most recent attack on the American mainland.
It should be noted that Pearl Harbor and 9/11 are significant days in this history of our nation. We should never forget those men and women who died in service to their country. Further, we should never forget that America remains a target for enemies of freedom and liberty.