Lest We Forget: On 7 December 1941 a Total of 2,388 American Sailors and Marines Killed In Action by Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

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FDR Asks Congress to declare war on Japan

US Senate vote to declare war on Pearl Harbor unanimous 82-0

US House of Representatives voted 388 to 1*

“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.”

These famous lines are from the opening of the address to the Congress of the United States by the Hon. Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America asking the Congress to declare war on Japan.

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1st page of the original typescript of FDR’s speech to Congress.

(courtesy of FDR Library of Marist College.)

President Roosevelt dictated this speech in just a few minutes to his secretary in the early evening of December 7th, 1941. The corrections are by his hand.

Writing in FDR: An Intimate History (Plume, 1984), author and biographer Nathan Miller wrote:

“He [FDR] inhaled deeply on his cigarette, blew out the smoke, and began dictating in the same calm tone he used to deal with his mail. He enunciated the words incisively and slowly, carefully specifying each punctuation mark and new paragraph. Running little more than five hundred words, the message was dictated without hesitation or second thoughts.”

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The USS Arizona seen burning after the attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the morning of December 7, 1941. It was 1 p.m. in Washington. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, NLR-PHOCO-A-8150(29))

151205-N-RJ834-042 PEARL HARBOR (Dec. 5, 2015) Nelson Mitchell, the oldest living African-American Pearl Harbor survivor, reflects in the shrine room of the USS Arizona Memorial during a Pearl Harbor Survivor/ World War II, Family and Friends Harbor Tour at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The harbor tour is one of several events that will take place leading up to the 74th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day to pay tribute to the nationÕs military while enlightening Americans about veterans and service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd ClassTamara Vaughn/Released)

PEARL HARBOR (Dec. 5, 2015) Nelson Mitchell, the oldest living African-American Pearl Harbor survivor, reflects in the shrine room of the USS Arizona Memorial during a Pearl Harbor Survivor/ World War II, Family and Friends Harbor Tour Pearl Harbor. The harbor tour is one of several events that will take place leading up to the 74th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day to pay tribute to the nation’s military while enlightening Americans about veterans and service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd ClassTamara Vaughn)
151114-N-ZF498-210 PEARL HARBOR (Nov. 14, 2015) Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) render honors as the ship passes the USS Arizona Memorial while entering Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Theodore Roosevelt is operating in the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of operations as part of a worldwide deployment en route to its new homeport in San Diego to complete a three-carrier homeport shift. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski /Released)

PEARL HARBOR (Nov. 14, 2015) Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) render honors as the ship passes the USS Arizona Memorial while entering Pearl Harbor.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski)

According to the US National Park Service: “Of the total number of men killed at Pearl Harbor, approximately 1,177 were sailors and marines serving on the USS Arizona. Approximately 333 men aboard the USS Arizona survived the attack.”

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USS California sinking

Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941

US National Park Service figures for Americans killed in action during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

US Navy….. 1,998
US Marine Corps… 109
US Army…. 233
Civilian…….. 48

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Destroyer USS Shaw explodes. A navy photographer snapped this photograph of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, just as the USS Shaw exploded. (Official US Navy photo courtesy of the National Archives)

“A date which will live in infamy”

Pearl Harbor December 7th 1941

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battleship USS Nevada attempts to exit Pearl Harbor during the attack

(US Navy photo)

December 7th 1941

“A date which will live in infamy”

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President Franklin D Roosevelt signs the Declaration of War against Japan

He concluded his address to Congress:

“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.”

NYT japan surrenders

New York Times announces Japanese surrender

On 15 August 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies including the USSR. The emperor had never spoken on the radio and this was the first time Japanese ever heard his voice. He wasn’t the nice little man who studied fish in his later years as depicted. He was a war criminal and feeling against ran strong especially among the common people of Japan who had suffered so much.

more information at the following links:

US National Archives FDR crafts declaration of war against Japan speech

FDR Presidential Library

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/