The December 7th, 1941, Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. It is often referred to as “The Day that will live in Infamy”. In one carefully planned and well executed stroke the Japanese Empire removed the United States Navy’s battleship force as a possible threat and propelled the United States into the Second World War as a full combatant.
By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching and end, informed U.S. officials fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines as well. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east as well.
On the morning of December 7th, 1941, the incoming Japanese attack planes were detected by radar and reported, but were mistaken for an incoming group of American planes due from the mainland. While on practice maneuvers outside the harbor that morning, an American destroyer spotted a Japanese submarine attempting to sneak into the harbor. The submarine was fired upon, immediately reported- and ignored.
About 360 Japanese attack planes had launched at dawn from aircraft carriers in an attack force of about 33 ships. At 7:55 am the first bombs and torpedoes were dropped. After two hours, the U.S. sustained 18 ships sunk or severely damaged, about 170 aircraft destroyed, and there were more than 3,000 casualties. Japanese casualties were minimal.
What can the American people do to honor the men and women who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor?
Fly the American flag at half staff from your flag pole on December 7th to honor those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the direction of the President, the flag of the United States of America should be displayed at half mast on the homes of Americans, the White House and all United States government buildings.