December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy.  On our Facebook page, we posted a series of photos alongside the famous address to Congress that Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered following the attack on Pearl Harbor. In this article we included the entire series of photos accompanied by captains and the speech in its entirety.

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan

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The initial attack on Pearl Harbor. The large plume of water is a torpedo detonation against the hull of USS West Virginia (BB-48). The attacking aircraft is visible banking away towards the right.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

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Japanese aircraft carriers gathered off of Hitokappu Bay in preparation for the Attack on Pearl Harbor in November, 1941.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

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A6M Zero fighter aircraft preparing to take off from the carrier Akagi. They would take part in the second wave of aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor that day.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

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The destroyer USS Shaw (DD-373) exploding. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, she was hit by two bombs. The fires reached the forward magazine, causing it to detonate.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

a date which will live in infamy
The twisted remains of the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39). Following the detonation of the forward magazines, the ship’s forward superstructure collapsed.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

a date which will live in infamy
A motor launch rescues men alongside the burning USS West Virginia (BB-48). The USS Tennessee (BB-43) moored between the West Virginia and Ford Island, was largely spared from damage apart from two bomb hits.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

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A newspaper highlights the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and across the Pacific.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

a date which will live in infamy
The battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38) was in drydock along with the destroyers Cassin and Downes during the attack. All three ships were repaired and returned to service.


No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

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Absolute victory over three years later after Pearl Harbor. American and British battleships converge off Japan in Sagami Bay in 1945.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.

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Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the declaration of war against the Empire of Japan.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Chris Knupp

A student of military history, I am working to make history more interesting and accessible for everyone.


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