The United States observes National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day annually on Dec. 7 to honor the army personnel and citizens who lost their lives in the airstrike conducted by the Japanese near the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The attack in Hawaii claimed more than 2,400 American lives and brought the United States into World War II. On Jan. 7, 1943, former President Franklin D. Roosevelt commemorated the Pearl Harbor tragedy in his State of the Union address before Congress in a speech that resonates in the hearts of the people of the U.S. even today.

“First in the importance in the American scene has been the inspiring proof of the great qualities of our fighting men,” he said. “They have demonstrated these qualities in adversity as well as in victory. As long as our flag flies over this Capitol, Americans will honor the soldiers, sailors and Marines who fought our first battles of this war against overwhelming odds the heroes – living and dead, of Wake and Bataan and Guadalcanal, of the Java Sea and Midway and the North Atlantic convoys. Their unconquerable spirit will live forever.”

“A tremendous, costly, long-enduring task in peace as well as in war is still ahead of us. But, as we face that continuing task, we may know that the state of this Nation is good–the heart of this Nation is sound-the spirit of this Nation is strong–the faith of this Nation is eternal,” he added.

From then on, Dec. 7 is remembered as the Pearl Harbor Day every year. Here are some facts about the tragic time.

1. On the day of the attack, a fleet of around 360 Japanese warplanes launched an attack on the U.S. military in Hawaii, damaging nearly 20 American naval vessels, eight battleships and over 300 airplanes.

2. The Japanese called the attack the “Operation Hawaii” as they drew their plan. This later changed to “Operation Z.”

3. Almost half of the casualties at Pearl Harbor were on the naval battleship USS Arizona, which was hit four times by Japanese bombers and eventually sank.

4. The Japanese traveled 3,400 miles across the Pacific to execute their attack on Pearl Harbor.

5. The Japanese forces were led by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo.

6. The Pearl Harbor attack led to eight investigations between Dec. 22, 1941, and July 15, 1946.

A photo from the National Archives of the Japanese December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
A photo from the National Archives of the Japanese December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES

Below are some quotes, courtesy Brainy Quotes, honoring the army men and civilians:

  • "Our military thought that they couldn’t get to Pearl Harbor, that it was too long a journey from Japan to get there, and they proved us wrong." - Jerry Bruckheimer
  • "Seventy years ago today, a bright Sunday morning was darkened by the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor…We salute the veterans and survivors of Pearl Harbor who inspire us still. Despite overwhelming odds, they fought back heroically, inspiring our nation and putting us on the path to victory." - Barack Obama.
  • "My father pulled into Pearl Harbor four days after the bombing, and he said, everything was still burning. He said they never told the public how bad it was. It was really bad." - John Lasseter.
  • "Pearl Harbor caused our Nation to wholeheartedly commit to winning World War II, changing the course of our Nation's history and the world's future." –Joe Baca
  • “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.”– Dwight Eisenhower.