December 7, 1941 was quite a long time ago, though its importance in history will never be forgotten. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. While this is not a federal holiday in the sense that businesses stay open and kids still go to school (Orange Legal will still be open), that doesn’t make it any less important to the American people.
Flags will be flown at half-mast and public officials will give speeches to recognize the soldiers who lost their lives that day at the American Army and Navy Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Imperial Japanese Navy surprised our troops in the efforts of curtailing our presence in the Pacific. They managed to kill more than 2,400 soldiers and leave more than 1,000 injured. Americans battleships and aircrafts stationed in the Pacific region were destroyed, though the Japanese did not lose nearly as much as the United States did. Much to the dismay of the Japanese, this attack only escalated the events of World War II, because the United States declared war on Japan the following day. President Roosevelt gave his famous speech to Congress (stating how this day is now a “date which will live in infamy”).
This was not an attack completely out of the blue; the US and Japan had been inching closer to action for years. America was not pleased with Japan’s attitude toward China, as the country was attempting to expand into that neighboring market. The US responded with trade embargoes and economic sanctions, hoping that these deterrents would put a lid on Japan’s expansionism. This, obviously, was not the result.
There will be many memorials and services throughout the country to remember this terrible day. Memorials like the USS Arizona, a sunken ship in Pearl Harbor with a marble memorial constructed atop of it, have been in existence since 1962. This ship suffered horrific casualties, as more than 1,000 men were trapped aboard when it sank. Unfortunately, at the moment this memorial has been closed indefinitely for repairs. The USS Utah (Utah’s official state ship) was actually sunk on December 7, 1941, and is on the roster of the National Register of Historic Places.
Florida was actually very much affected by the attack on Pearl Harbor, mainly because so many military personnel ended up moving into the Peninsula (more than 170 installations were established or expanded). The Museum of Florida History has a great exhibit about the impact of Japan’s attack on the Hawaiian military base, which offers a unique perspective as to how the attack changed the state of Florida and how events played out through the years. Perhaps you’ll visit the museum in Tallahassee; either way, take a moment on December 7 to remember the thousands who died or suffered that infamous day, and know how their sacrifice shaped the world we live in.