December 7, 1941 changed America. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called it, “A date which will live in infamy.” Americans were stunned that an enemy would dare attack America’s shores. The horror of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii that would bring the United States into World War II served as a uniting event, bringing Americans together for a single cause: To defeat the monsters that attacked America.
The Japanese Empire killed over 2,400 Americans in and around Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 1,177 of those deaths were those that died aboard the USS Arizona battleship. That was 67 years ago, and though many people in today’s society know nothing about the attack, or couldn’t even tell you the significance of December 7th if asked, the memory of that day lives on in those that were alive when America was attacked.
For many who lived through World War II, everyday during the war, in their heart, was December 8th. Men of all ages swarmed the military recruiting offices to join the war, and fight for America.
Women joined the factories to work as builders of aircraft and other war machines. They planted “Victory Gardens” to grow their own vegetables, as many items were in short supply partly due to the war effort, and partly due to the Great Depression.
Through it, after the New Deal failed so spectacularly to end the depression, America worked together to win the war in Europe and the Pacific Theater. And the war effort also served to end the crippling economic depression that had waged its own war against America since 1929.
Twenty four of the 335 USS Arizona survivors are known to be alive. Four of those survivors made an annual pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor to attend a service at the USS Arizona Memorial. This year, one of their shipmates, Charles Guerin who died December 24, 2007, rejoined his fellow crewmen when U.S. National Park divers delivered his ashes underwater to the USS Arizona, as have many Arizona survivors before him.
As with the terror attacks on 9/11, no one should forget the stunning attack on American soil at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Though the memories are fading, and the importance of that day is being forgotten by some, for many it still remains a date which will live in infamy.