On the 80th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack
"Unless we remember, we cannot understand." – E.M. Forster
Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the skies over Honolulu, Hawaii, were filled with Japanese military aircraft in a coordinated assault on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor and military bases on Oahu. Eight Navy battleships were among the 18 naval ships either damaged or sunk. More than 300 aircraft were also damaged or destroyed. The attack killed 2,403 service members and civilians and left another 1,178 people injured.
“A day that will live in infamy” were the words President Roosevelt used to describe the attack – and the very next day, on Dec. 8, 1941, the U.S. declared war with Japan. By the end of the week, the war had officially expanded to include Germany and all the Axis powers.
For eight decades, Pearl Harbor has stood as a strong symbol of the resilience of the American people in the fight for freedom and democracy. The response to the attack on Pearl Harbor called on the reserves of courage and resourcefulness that Americans found they were willing to give. The bravery of those who defended our freedom and gave their lives at Pearl Harbor is worthy of remembrance every Dec. 7 as their service will always be important and relevant.
Additionally, on Dec. 7, we also commemorate the overall war effort that marked America over the four long years of the war that followed the attack. The war touched every family as America in the effort to win the war and re-establish peace. On Dec. 7, we remember with appreciation those who are often now called “the greatest generation” for the sacrifices they made to sustain the freedom of our country and the future of the world.
After the war ended in 1945, healing and rebuilding began. The wartime animosities are rightfully behind us and those who were our enemies then are our allies now. In the decades that followed the war, we have united to demonstrate that shared peace and prosperity can emerge even from a conflict as devastating as World War II.
On Dec. 7, we remember the bravery and sacrifice of the people whose lives were lost or changed forever 80 years ago. Their courage and valor still resonate today – and the decades of peace shared by old combatants represents our best hope that war need not ever envelop our world again.