It was a typical Sunday morning in Hawaii. But just before 8 a.m. 72 years ago, the serene morning quickly turned hellish.
From the morning sky, 353 aircraft Japanese descended on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor intending “to destroy America’s military establishment in the Pacific.” A total of 2,400 Americans – 1,177 on the USS Arizona alone – were killed in the sneak attack.
“Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said the following day.
Following the attack, the United States entered into World War II. “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve,” Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto supposedly said following the attack. He was right.
A visit to Pearl Harbor to remember that day and honoring those who made sacrifices on Dec. 7, 1941, is indeed a moving one. Perhaps the most famous tribute to the day is the USS Arizona Memorial.
The 184-foot-long memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day 1962. Each year, more than 1.5 million people visit the memorial, a somber tribute to a fateful day that forever changed the course of history.