Remembering Pearl Harbor

Seventy-six years ago, 2,403 Americans died in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The surprise aerial attack by Japan was a pivotal event not only for the United States, but for world history as well.

The unprecedented attack was the final straw that thrust the United States into World War II and changed the way we viewed the world and how the world viewed us.

A couple of weeks prior, after deteriorating negotiations between the U.S. and Japan over a series of hostile events including Japan’s invasion of China in 1937, its alliance with Germany and Italy three years later and its occupation of Indochina the following year, Japan’s Prime Minister decided to attack the United States. While still in negotiations with the United States, Tojo Hideki ordered a fleet of 22 ships launched toward the United States that included destroyers, aircraft carriers and battleships.

Two hundred and seventy-five miles off the coast of Hawaii, 360 planes were launched toward the island, with Pearl Harbor in its sight. More than 200 descended on the island at 7:55 a.m., destroying ships, aircraft and lives in a matter of minutes.

The attack crippled the U.S. Naval fleet and air power in the Pacific. More than 180 U.S. aircraft were destroyed, and more than 14 battleships and vessels sunk or destroyed. U.S. casualties totaled nearly 3,500, and 2,403 Americans died.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said of the attack, it was a “date which will live in infamy,” and declared war on Japan.

The attack set into motion events that would take the United States on a new course as global superpower and set the image of it as a guardian of international order.

With today marking the 76th anniversary of that attack, we urge you to take a moment to reflect on the men and women who lost their lives that day and of all the military troops since who have risked their lives to keep us safe from harm. Without them, we would not have the freedoms we enjoy today.

Let’s never forget.