On a Sunday morning in 1941, an “urgent” radiogram went out to all U.S. Navy ships near Hawaii: “AIRRAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NO DRILL.”

Rear Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, then-Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC), sent the message on Dec. 7, 1941, minutes after Japanese fighter planes started dropping bombs on the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor, according to documents from the National Archives and Records Administration. Less than two hours later, more than 2,400 people were dead and many more were wounded in the attack that moved America into World War II.

On Dec. 8, that horror was documented by newspapers across the country — and around the world — announcing variations on the headline that appeared on the front page of The Washington Post: “Japan declares war against U.S.”

That morning, The Post and other newspapers reported that President Franklin D. Roosevelt would appear before a joint session of Congress to request a call to arms — remarks that would go down in history as the “Day of Infamy” speech.

“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,” Roosevelt said, according to the National Archives.

“The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces,” he continued. “Very many American lives have been lost.”

Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war.

“As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense,” he said. “But always will our whole nation 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.”

“With confidence in our armed forces,” he continued, “with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.”


A crowd gathered on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on Monday for a commemorative celebration of the 74th National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.