Today is the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii that killed nearly 2,400 American service men and women. The following day, the United States declared war on Japan, entering World War II.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said that Dec. 7, 1941 was “a date which will live in infamy.” He resolved “the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”
Seventy years later, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation encouraging Americans to fly their flags at half-staff in honor of those killed or injured in the attack.
“On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor the more than 3,500 Americans killed or wounded during that deadly attack and pay tribute to the heroes whose courage ensured our Nation would recover from this vicious blow,” the proclamation says. “Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II. As a Nation, we look to December 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms.”
Pearl Harbor survivors represent the best of America, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a message to Pearl Harbor veterans.
“Our enemies thought that by this sudden and deliberate raid, they could weaken America,” Panetta said in his message. “Instead, they only strengthened it. That day truly awoke a sleeping giant.”
“In the memories of that day, we continue to draw determination and conviction to protect our freedoms, to sacrifice for our fellow citizens, and to serve a purpose larger than self,” Panetta said. “You, the survivors of Pearl Harbor and of the war that followed, embody this conviction, this determination to raise high the torch of freedom and sacrifice.”
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