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2,400 Americans died at Pearl Harbor 80 years ago today

Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (U.S. National Archives/Released)
December 07, 2021

December 7th is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and this year marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on American troops at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii that shook the nation.

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

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

Japan launched two waves of attack against the U.S. base with 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft, including fighters, dive bombers and torpedo bombers.

President 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.”

The attack was a surprise, but experts say the United States and Japan had been edging toward war for decades. Japan attacked because it wanted to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet away from its military plans in Southeast Asia.

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

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.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Pearl Harbor remembrance event will be held virtually on Tuesday beginning at 12:50 p.m. EST.

President Joe Biden honored his first Pearl Harbor Day of his presidency with a statement, and also posted on social media to say, “As we mark National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor the patriots who perished, commemorate the valor of all those who defended our nation, and recommit ourselves to carrying forth the ensuing peace and reconciliation that brought a better future for our world.”

The military paid tribute to Pearl Harbor Day with statements and social media posts across the web.

The Department of Defense tweeted, “Dec. 7 remains a day that lives in infamy even after 80 years. Today, we honor those who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The memory of their courage and sacrifice will never fade.”

The U.S. Army tweeted, “On this day, 80 years ago, our Nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it ‘a date which will live in infamy.’ Today, we honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice that day.”

The U.S. Navy tweeted, “Today, the #USNavy remembers and honors those that gave the ultimate sacrifice during the attacks at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.”

The U.S. Air Force tweeted, “Today marks the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. We honor and remember the 2,403 servicemembers and civilians who were killed during the attack December 7, 1941.”

The U.S. Marines tweeted, “We mark 80 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Each year, we pause to remember those who perished that day, and those who fought and sacrificed throughout World War II.”