Political News

#TBT: 'A date which will live in infamy'

Posted December 7, 2017 10:04 a.m. EST

— Seventy-six years ago today, Japanese forces carried out an attack on a US Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing thousands and catapulting the United States into World War II. December 7, 1941, has since been remembered as, in President Franklin Roosevelt's words, "a date which will live in infamy."

While Japan hadn't declared war on the United States by the time the attack began, there were some indications of a possible attack. According to The National WWII Museum, an American cryptologist intercepted a Japanese message regarding Pearl Harbor on December 6. Multiple reports state that Japanese planes were seen on radar minutes before the attack, but were thought to be a group of US bombers.

The attack occurred around 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, carried out by 353 Japanese planes, 35 submarines and two battleships. Multiple American ships were damaged or destroyed in the attack -- you can see the USS Shaw on fire in the image above. More than 160 aircraft were totally destroyed, and 2,403 Americans died. Of those, 1,177 served on the USS Arizona.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump met with six of the remaining survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack.

"Throughout the war, one great battle cry could be heard by American friends and foes alike: 'Remember Pearl Harbor,'" Trump said.

Indeed, the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor was a testament to the American spirit. Many of the ships sunk in the attack were refloated and returned to service. The USS Arizona still sits underwater, leaking between two and nine quarts of oil a day, serving as a permanent reminder of what was lost that day.

President Roosevelt delivered his now-famous speech to Congress on December 8, 1941, asking for a war declaration on Japan. The most famous part of the speech -- the "infamy" line --- was originally written as "a date which will live in world history," according to the first draft now on file at the National Archives. Still accurate.

A less appreciated part of Roosevelt's speech still rings true:

"(A)lways 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," he said.