Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
Remembering What it Means to Serve
December 7, 2015 by Jake Butler
On the morning of December 7, 1941 – a date that has lived in infamy – the Empire of Japan stormed Pearl Harbor in an unprovoked act of war against the United States. The aerial and naval attacks claimed the lives of 2,403 Americans and wounded more than a thousand others. Their intended purpose was to prevent America from extending its influence in the Pacific. Instead, the events actually led to the escalation of World War II and forced America to enter into direct conflict.
Thanks to the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States was quick to respond to the tragic events. His speech to a Joint Session of Congress on December 8 – known as the Infamy Speech – is still widely considered one of the most famous political speeches of all time. He expressed supreme confidence in the Armed Forces and the “unbounding determination” of the American people, and Congress followed through to declare war on Japan just 33 minutes later, with only one representative voting against it. The White House was inundated with telegrams and letters that praised the president’s stance and military recruiting stations were suddenly flooded with volunteers eager to dedicate their lives to service.
In the face of enormous tragedy following the gruesome attacks on Pearl Harbor, the country united in its endeavor to maintain freedom and safety for all its citizens. Slogans like “Remember December 7th” and “Avenge December 7” were adopted as rallying cries, emblazoned on posters and lapel pins, helping civilians and service members alike keep the victims in their thoughts and prayers.
As we reflect on the lives lost at Pearl Harbor and in the war that followed, we must pause to thank the Greatest Generation for the sacrifices they made in the name of liberty. The men and women who chose to serve left their lives and their families behind to fight to protect the rights so many Americans take for granted.
The same is true of service members today, 74 years later. So today, on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor the victims of the attacks, and thank all the men and women of the Armed Forces throughout history who have fought so valiantly to make this country what it is today.