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2,400 Americans died at Pearl Harbor 78 years ago today

Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (U.S. National Archives/Flickr)
December 07, 2019

Americans across the country are commemorating the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on American troops at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

At 7:50 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft appeared in the air over Pearl Harbor. Less than two hours later, the deadliest attack on U.S. soil until 9/11, and 2,403 were dead, 18 ships were either damaged or sunk, two U.S. Navy battleships — the USS Arizona and the USS Utah — were sunk and 180 aircraft were destroyed. Of the dead, 1,177 came from the USS Arizona alone.

There were 1,143 wounded, including 710 Navy, 69 Marines, 364 Army and 103 civilians.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan the next day, entering the country into World War 2 and described it as “a date which will live in infamy.”

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The attack was a surprise, but experts say the United States and Japan had been “edging toward war for decades.”

The Japanese surrendered after the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear weapons on August 6, 1945, and August 9, 1945, respectively.

Ray Chavez, a quartermaster stationed in Pearl Harbor at the time, was the oldest survivor of the attack who died at 106, just 15 days before the 77th anniversary last year.

On Aug. 23, 1994, Congress designated Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, according to the National Park Service.

In honor of the anniversary, all flags should be lowered to half staff at sunrise and raised at sunset; flags that cannot be lowered respect for the day can be shown by tying a black ribbon or cord at the top of the flagstaff.

At 7:50 a.m. on the Ceremonial Lawn at Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service will host the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day 78th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremony to honor and remember those who lost their lives.