Thus that first historic sentence was born: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
Archive Holdings Inc./The Image Bank/Getty Images
On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise air attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. After just two hours of bombing more than 2,400 Americans were dead, 21 ships* had either been sunk or damaged, and more than 188 U.S. aircraft destroyed.
The attack at Pearl Harbor so outraged Americans that the U.S. abandoned its policy of isolationism and declared war on Japan the following day—officially bringing the United States into World War II.
At 12:30 p.m. on the day following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave an address to Congress in which he declared that December 7, 1941, was “a date that will live in infamy.” At the end of the speech, Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. With only one dissenting vote (by Representative Jeannette Rankin from Montana), Congress declared war, officially bringing the United States into World War II.