Today in History: U.S. Launched into World War II

Today in History: U.S. Launched into World War II

by M.C. Millman

On December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy," Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent the US Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor amid tensions between the U.S. and Japan. 

Early Sunday morning on December 7, a devastating surprise awaited Pearl Harbor. According to the Library of Congress, Japanese planes struck Pearl Harbor, killing over 2,300 Americans. Twelve U.S. warships sank or were beached, and nine more vessels were damaged. Japan also destroyed over 160 aircraft and damaged more than 150 others. 

The National World War II Museum recounts that almost half of those killed were crew members on the U.S.S. Arizona battleship. The ship sank within minutes after a bomb struck and ignited more than a million pounds of ammunition. The ship's remains are still in the Pearl Harbor waters, a memorial to that fateful morning.

Admiral Husband Edward Kimmel, Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, sent out the first official word of the attack, saying, "AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NOT DRILL."

The next day, President Roosevelt referred to December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy," in an address to a joint session of Congress. Then, according to, Roosevelt asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the U.S. and Japan. The Senate voted for the war 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved it 388 to 1.  

American military historian Rob Citino, Ph.D., said, "No moment in the history of the United States casts a longer shadow than Pearl Harbor."

Photo Credit: Flickr

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