On This Day: December 7 On This Day
Published: December 7, 2015
On This Day: December 7 On This Day, Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Japanese attacks on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, an act of aggression that signaled America’s entry into World War II. More than 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,700 wounded in the early morning attacks on the Hawaiian Navy Base.
In all, the U.S. lost nearly 20 American ships and 300 airplanes.
Here are 7 things you may not know about the ‘day that will live in infamy’
About ‘a date that will live in infamy’
The famous description of the Pearl Harbor attack as a “date that will live in infamy” was delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a joint session of Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, one day after the tragedy. Within an hour of the speech, which originally described the day as “a date which will live in world history,” Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan.
Almost half of those who died at Pearl Harbor were aboard the USS Arizona. In all, 1,177 officers and crewmen died when the Arizona was bombed. The ship sank and, along with the USS Utah, were the only two ships not salvaged after the attack. In 1962, a memorial over the wreck was dedicated. The Arizona remains at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, leaking out small drops of oil which spread into the water above. Experts said the Arizona is near collapse due to the damage from the attack and decades at the bottom of the sea.
Brothers in arms
There were 37 pairs or trios of brothers on the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941. Of the 77 men, 62 were killed and 23 sets of brothers died. Only one full set of brothers, Kenneth and Russell Warriner, survived the attack; Kenneth saved by a trip to San Diego for flight training and Russell, wounded in the attacks, but able to recover. The ship’s only father-and-son-pair, Thomas Augusta Free and his son William Thomas Free, were killed in action.
Three Alabama brothers, Thomas, Charles and Melvin Murdock of DeKalb County, were aboard the USS Arizona. Only Thomas survived, passing away in 1979 at age 71.
Last USS Arizona officer died this year
Navy Ensign Joe Langdell, the last surviving officer of the USS Arizona, died in February of this year at age 100. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are now only eight crewmen from the Arizona still living.
Langdell, like many others who survived the Arizona attack, is buried at the memorial. The USS Arizona Reunion Association allows for the cremated remains of any crew to be interred on the ship. To do so, divers swim with the urn and place it inside the barbette of gun turret No. 4.
Elvis and Pearl Harbor
The USS Arizona, along with the remains of more than 1,000 of its crew, are submerged in less than 40 feet of water at Pearl Harbor. In 1949, the Pacific War Memorial Commission was established to build a permanent memorial at the site but it wasn’t until 1958 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation to create a national memorial. The money for the memorial came from the private and public sector, including singer Elvis Presley. Presley, a veteran of the U.S. Army, performed a benefit concert that raised more than $50,000 – more than 10 percent of the monument’s total cost. The monument was officially dedicated on May 30, 1962.
Tora, tora, tora!
Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who led the air attack on Pearl Harbor, is remembered for his famous phrase “Tora, tora, tora!” The phrase, which translates to “Tiger, tiger, tiger!” indicated that the attackers had caught the U.S. fleet completely off guard. The name was later used for a 1970 film detailing the attack.
Several events are planned for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. The National Park Service will air a live video stream of the commemorative events on Monday. The ceremony will begin at 7:30 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time, 11:30 p.m. CST, with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy as the keynote speaker.
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