December 7, 1941 – A Date Which Still Lives in Infamy
77 years ago today, Japanese fighter planes bombed the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was one of the most devastating attacks in American history. The surprise military strike caught the United States off guard, and came as a shock to the American people. In a little less than two hours, 2,403 people were killed. The attack, “a date which will live in infamy” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it, drew the United States into WWII.
Of those that lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, more than half were sailors and marines aboard the USS Arizona battleship. The USS Arizona was bombarded four times by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service, and the ship was ultimately damaged beyond repair. The wreckage still lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor just off the coast of Ford Island and serves as the final resting place for many of the ship’s crewmen who lost their lives on that fateful day.
Almost one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona was stricken from the registry of U.S. Navy vessels. Out of respect for the sunken vessel, no other U.S. warship will ever be named USS Arizona again.
On May 30, 1962, the USS Arizona Memorial site was dedicated to all those that died during the attack. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had approved the creation of a National Memorial in 1958. A large portion of the memorial was privately financed, with Elvis Presley serving as one of the primary donors. He was able to raise more than 10 percent of the USS Arizona Memorial’s final cost by performing a benefit concert that raised over $50,000.
The USS Arizona Memorial is visited by thousands of tourists each year. It is one of several sites in Hawaii and elsewhere that are part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.
Test your Pearl Harbor knowledge by playing the quiz below.