Picture of the Day: December 7

At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched an aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, bringing America into World War II. Relations between Japan and the United States had been strained for a decade as both nations sought to dominate the Pacific. Long aware that a Japanese surprise attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor could precede war, U.S. authorities were still woefully unprepared when 363 Japanese fighters, dive-bombers and torpedo planes sunk or damaged eight battleships and three light cruisers, destroyed 188 planes and killed 2,400 men in just over two hours. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt denounced December 7, 1941, as a ‘date which will live in infamy’ as he asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

The photo above shows sailors in a motor launch rescuing a survivor from the water alongside the sunken USS West Virginia during or shortly after the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor.

Photo: Naval Historical Center

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