Honoring the lives of 2,403 sailors and citizens who were killed in the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the nation remembers their sacrifice on December 7, 1941. Since 1994, when Congress declared it a national day of remembrance, flags are to be flown at half-mast until sunset to honor the memories of those who passed.
The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred at 7:48 a.m., December 7, as the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked the Naval Station in Honolulu, Oahu without warning or declaration of war. The base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese aircrafts launched in two waves from six aircraft carriers. The attack damaged all eight US Navy battleships at Pearl Harbor, and completely sunk four, including the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 officers and crewman. Three cruisers, three destroyers and one minelayer were also damaged.
Within hours of the attack, Canada became the first western nation to declare war on Japan, followed by the United States the next day. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was president at the time, described the event as “a date which will live in infamy,” in his famous speech given before Congress. Afterwards, he asked Congress to approve a resolution that recognized a state of war between the United States and Japan, which was passed by a vote of 82-0. Three days afterwards, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, solidifying themselves as the Axis powers alongside Japan.
Last year, less than 2,500 survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack were thought to be still alive, according to Eileen Martinez, chief of interpretation for the USS Arizona Memorial. “They are in their twilight years, so now is the time to honor them and thank them for their service,” she told the Reuters news agency in 2016. This year marks the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.