Second only to the events of September 11, 2001, the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 1941 is one of the most significant moments in American history. At 7:48 in the morning Hawaiian time, the Japanese began the first wave of attacks against the United States' naval fleet. The ships anchored in Pearl Harbor, the air stations at Hickam, Wheeler, Ford Island, Kaneohe and Ewa Field were all attacked by the Japanese.

In July of 1940 the U.S had placed an embargo on Japan hoping they would restrain Japan's military aggression in China. Japan, a proud nation, would not be dictated to by the United States and began to prepare the attack on Pearl Harbor in early 1941. The U.S ambassador to Japan sent a warning to Washington that the Japanese were planning an attack but the information was not believed.

In the months leading up to the attack, the United States would monitor messages from Japan and on the evening of Dec. 6 Washington decoded a message pointing to the following morning as the date of the attack.

The message was not sent to Pearl Harbor command until after the attack had already begun. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor lasted two hours and 20 minutes. Over 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were injured. Eighteen American ships were destroyed or sunk another 300 aircrafts were terminated or damaged in the attack. A number of memorable quotes came in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack.

  1. When the attack began the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi was given the message "TO, TO, TO." This is short for Totsugeki which means charge.
  2. Another infamous quote from the Japanese was "Tora-Tora-Tora" which indicated to the higher ups that the attack had been a total surprise to the Americans.
  3. On Dec. 8, 1941 President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt requested congress declare war against the Japanese. Following the President's now iconic speech Congress granted the president the act of war. "Yesterday, December 7, 1941- a date that will live in infamy- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan...No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people will through their righteous might win through absolute victory...with confidence in our armed forces with the unbounded determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph so help us God. I therefore ask that congress declare war that since that dastardly and unprovoked attack by Japan on Sunday...a state of war has existed between the United States and Japanese Empire."
  4. Standing on his flagship Enterprise Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, a man with a known dislike of the Japanese, made a strong statement when he saw the damage at Pearl Harbor. "Before we're through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in Hell."
  5. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill learned of the attack after President Roosevelt called him on the phone. Writing a memoir of his reaction to the news Churchill said, "To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at this very moment," Churchill continued, "I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in it to the death. So we had won after all!...Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder."
  6. Another famous line to come in the wake of Pearl Harbor may not have ever been spoken. Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is often quoted after learning of the attack's success as saying, "I feel all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with terrible resolve." The line was said at the end of the 1970 film "Tora! Tora! Tora!" It was later adapted for the 2001 movie "Pearl Harbor." No biography of Admiral Yamamoto has included the line as a direct quote from the man himself. While it serves as a dramatic end to a war film it has yet to be proven or verified by those who were with the Admiral at the time of the attack that the now famous quote is anything more than a line from a script.