A Day That Will Live In Infamy


Yesterday, December 7, 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.

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

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.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

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. This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday 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.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. 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.

I believe 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 very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

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 unbounded determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.

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

From US Historical Documents.


Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Take a listen and a read.  It’s worth remembering.  If we do not study the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

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6 thoughts on “A Day That Will Live In Infamy”

  1. Oh how true.

    Roosevelt was a great wartime president however we’re still dealing with a lot of the problems his administration created here on the home front. Thanks for the post Amy, sometimes our countries past lessons can offer solutions to our present problems.

    1. Both of the Roosevelts were two of our greatest Presidents. I count them with Lincoln and Washington and Adams.

      His administration did not create problems, unless you think putting the unemployed back to work is “creating a problem”. Don’t forget, we had more than 1/4 of the working people out of work; it was worse for farmers in the dust bowl. The general economy would have crumbled worse. WWII paid for all of the money FDR poured into our economy. You wouldn’t have any unemployment insurance, health care, or ANY safety net if it wasn’t for his policies.


  2. One thing I’ve always found interesting about the attack on Pearl Harbor is that we not only shot first, but had the first kill (http://ur1.ca/hbzi).

    Anyways, I agree that it’s very important to know history so that we can learn from our past mistakes. However, I think we often use the wrong lenses to examine such historical occurrences. Perhaps my view on this is clouded due to my own devotion to Japan, but I think we should not be remembering this as a “day of infamy”, but a day where we saw some of the worst of mankind. It really doesn’t matter who did what, because it was a still terrible tragedy that resulted in a terrible war. What I take from WWII is not a sense of national pride, but a disgust of war, armies, conflict, and weapons. We seem to ignore history (which is filled with violence) rather than learn from it, because if we really did learn, we wouldn’t be in two wars right now.

    KMFDM actually has some relevant lyrics in their song “Stars and Stripes” regarding learning from history:

    “Divided and conquered
    Gripped by fear
    Wishful thinking that it can’t happen hear
    It’s well underway but nobody knows
    A repeat of history
    That’s how it goes

    Tell the people that they’re under attack
    By man-eating foes from Mars or Iraq
    Mobilize outrage
    Muzzle dissent
    Send in the troops
    Strike the pre-empt”

    (full lyrics: http://ur1.ca/hc06)

    1. +1 to most of your comments.

      I don’t agree with you about WWII. I think we almost *had* to go to war to bring our economy out of the severe depression of the 30s (with was created by the massive excesses of the 20s, which was caused by the frugality of the 10s, which was WWI, but I digress…).

      War is not *always* bad; it depends on what side you’re on. We all agree that the Revolutionary War in the 1700s was the best thing that happened to the USA, because we broke our ties to Great Britain. I do, however, think we might have been released from British rule if we had waited long enough (ala Hong Kong or India) but I don’t think it would have happened quickly enough for our country to develop as it has.

      The only war(s) I think were justified (from a US perspective) were the Revolution, the Civil War (debatable, but I am a Northerner) and WWII. And, I think our involvement in WWII was justified because of Nazi Germany (I am not invoking Godwin here, just my thoughts).

      I am still undecided about the Pacific front of WWII. I agree that the atom bombs were too much; if we had just waited it out for another couple of months, we could have claimed victory with ground, air and sea. The war was almost over when the bombs were dropped, the Japanese had run out of steam, and (I think) we were fortifying in the Philippines to do another land and sea attack to the main island. (Do note, this information is from watching Ken Burns’ WWII documentary and may be fuzzy; I’m not sure about exact details.)

      Those lyrics are powerful. Thanks for the link!

      1. War is an ugly thing but when we have to engage in it we should be in it to win. Using the atomic weapons, as horrific as we know them now, did save 10 of thousands of Americans and Japanese who would have died in an all out invasion of Japan. The lessons the commanders learned in places like Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Guam, and all those other islands was that the Japanese would most likely have to be almost exterminated if we invaded. The demonstration of force we conveyed when we used those weapons did finally bring around the Japanese leadership to the fact that we would eventually prevail over them. Yes the Japanese war machine was on the decline but the population still had a lot of fight in them and our commanders knew that.

        My parents were able to visit Nagasaki during their tour in Japan in the 60s. The Japanese people they met still held a lot of resentment towards Americans even after that long of a time. I’m sure even today in Hiroshima and Nagasaki there are many that still hate us for using the atom bomb, but there are a lot of experts out there that agree that our use of those weapons did shorten the war by many years and saved thousands on each side.

        We did have forces prepping to invade Japan. We were in the middle of staging thousands of troops in the Pacific, many coming over from the recently ended Germany campaign. All of those GIs were able to come home years earlier than they expected because of Japans decision to surrender.

        So were the atomic bombs too much? Our perspective on the use of nuclear weapons is drastically different now than it was then. We know so much more about how they work and the devastation they leave in the aftermath. They did serve a purpose and did prove themselves useful at the time. Maybe now, since we know so much more about their side affects, we would make a different choice if faced with the same set of circumstances. But then again maybe not.

        1. I am letting this comment through, but I thoroughly do not agree with you.

          The nuclear bombs WERE overkill. Do not forget, we censure and condemn other countries for thinking about creating nuclear bombs and clean nuclear power, but we were the ONLY ONES who have used the bombs.


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