Remembering the attack on Pearl Harbor 74 years later

  • Zero-type fighter planes being prepared for takeoff by Japanese crewmen on carrier ship Hiryu before raid on Pearl Harbor, precipitating a US declaration of war on Japan.
  • The destroyer USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.
  • Aerial view of the US Hawaiian Air Base at Wheeler Airfield burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. Photograph taken by a Japanese bomber during the attack
  • A sailor runs for cover past flaming wreckage hit by dive bombers that had already blasted Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field; Kaneohe Bay Naval Station.
  • U.S. sailors man their boats at the side of the burning battleship, USS West Virginia, to better fight the flames started by Japanese torpedoes and bombs.
  • Sailors look at the wreckage at US Naval Air Station, as flames & smoke flare up in the background during Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • The sunk USS Oglala is seen in the foreground and in the background is the USS Maryland in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
  • Wreckage of hangar 11 at Hickam Field air base, destroyed during Japan’s surprise attack upon Pearl Harbor at the outset of direct US involvement in WWII.
  • Battleship U.S.S. Arizona, once one of the largest in the world, rests at the bottom of Pearl Harbor after the devastating Japanese bombing attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
  • A young boy from the Madison Square Boys’ Club carrying a large bundle of newspapers after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Seen at the front of the stack is the New York Mirror, with the headline “Japs Declare War.”
  • Sailors read the bad news telling them of the surprise attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which crippled the American fleet.
  • Shortly after the Japanese attack in Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor, young men line up to volunteer at a Navy Recruiting station, Boston, Mass., Dec. 8, 1941.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt (wearing black armband) signing declaration of war as others look on, following Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.



Dec. 7, 1941, will forever be remembered as “a date which will live in infamy.” Those were the words used by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt to describe the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces that killed 2,400 Americans, prompting the commander in chief to declare war and launch the country into World War II. 

Seventy-four years later, the bombing of the military base in Hawaii was commemorated at Pearl Harbor by a joint service held by the National Park Service and the U.S. Navy on Monday. This year’s theme is “Pathway to Reconciliation: From Engagement to Peace” and focuses on the normalization and subsequent friendship between the U.S. and Japan. The 75th anniversary next year is expected to draw as many as 6,000 visitors, according to the Associated Press.

Roosevelt first learned of the attack on the afternoon of Dec. 7 from his Secretary of War Henry Stimson. He quickly drafted a resolution requesting Congress to grant a declaration of war. Roosevelt’s remarks, which were delivered before a joint session of Congress and broadcast on the radio the following day, resulted in unanimous approval from the Senate and only one representative who dissented on pacifist grounds in the House. 

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