December 7, 1941, is a day that will continue to live on infamy in the United States. This is the day that the US was brought into World War II. The Japanese attacked the fleet at Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii, at 7:55 AM. Led by Vice Admiral Chuchi Nagumo, the attack consisted of two waves and 353 planes in total. Although devastating into the fleet, it could’ve been much worse. The Japanese only attacked the naval base and the airplanes at Hickman Airfield, leaving the submarine base, repair facilities, and fuel storage areas alone.
Here are some important facts about Pearl Harbor that you may not have known.
1. It Permanently Changed American Tactics
Before Pearl Harbor, the United States would often keep most of the week together at one naval base. On that fateful day in 1941, there were six battleships that were lost that day. Four of them were sunk, one of them was capsized, and the sixth ran aground. In total, 17 ships were lost that day and 188 planes were destroyed. The attack killed over 2300 people, 960 were missing, and almost 1300 were wounded. In return, only 28 planes from the Japanese fleet were shot down and American naval forces sunk five midget submarines in the attack.
2. The US Didn’t Declare War on Europe
Because of the attack, the United States immediately declared war on Japan. This declaration came after the president gave a very famous speech about December 7 living on as a day of infamy, which it has. It wasn’t until December 11 that the United States declared war on Italy and Germany and this was only done because the two countries declared war on the United States first.
3. The Attack Was Not the End
Although 17 total ships were lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and eight battleships were targeted during the attacks, only two of the law ships were eventually repaired and returned to active service. Although these repairs place, there are still many scars from this attack that can still be seen on the active military installations on Oahu. Instead of repairing the bullet holes, it was decided to leave them in place so that they could serve as a reminder of everyone who was lost that day and to motivate active duty personnel to stand strong.
4. Veterans Can Choose It
One of the unique burial options that is available for veterans is that anyone who was at the attack at Pearl Harbor can choose to be laid to rest on the site. The United States hires divers who will deposit the ashes of veterans underneath one of the gun torrents of the USS Arizona. Out of the 355 survivors, only about a dozen are still known to be alive.
5. A Living Memorial
For those who serve at Pearl Harbor, the site is considered solid ground. During government shutdowns, service members continue to care for the site without cost or complaint. They do it as a message to all US veterans to tell them that they have not been, nor ever will be forgotten.
Pearl Harbor is an emotional site for many American families. For a place and time that will live on in infamy, it is a stark reminder of what can happen when people allow their differences to get in the way of mutual progress.