​Almanac: Pearl Harbor

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: December 7th, 1941, 73 years ago today . . . the day Japan attacked the American Naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

Two waves of Japanese planes surprised and overwhelmed base defenders in that early Sunday morning raid, sinking or damaging 21 ships, including the battleship Arizona, which exploded and sank with the loss of more than 1,100 lives.


In all, more than 2,400 Americans died in the attack . . . and radio quickly spread the word to the mainland, where CBS newsman John Daly broke into the Sunday afternoon broadcast of the New York Philharmonic:

"We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin. The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by air, President Roosevelt has just announced."

The very next day, President Franklin Roosevelt appeared before a Joint Session of Congress to make a stirring call for a declaration of war:

"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."

Pearl Harbor became a rallying cry . . . not just in words, but in song as well:

Let's remember Pearl Harbor
As we go to meet the foe.
Let's remember Pearl Harbor
As we did the Alamo.
We will always remember
How they died for liberty.
Let's remember Pearl Harbor
And go on to victory.

Within four years, the United States and its allies had defeated not just Japan, but Germany as well . . . at a cost of more than 400,000 Americans killed, and nearly 700,000 wounded.

And though Germany and Japan have long since become U.S. allies, Pearl Harbor is not forgotten.

Today, as in years past, the American lives lost are being remembered in a ceremony on the grounds of the Naval Base overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial.

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A U.S. Navy musician plays "Taps" in front of the USS Arizona Memorial during the annual ceremony commemorating the attack on Hawaii, December 7, 2012 in Pearl Harbor. Kent Nishimura/Getty Images


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