The attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by the Japanese navy occurred on Sunday, 7 December 1941. Four U.S. navy battleships were sunk: the USS Arizona, the USS Utah, the USS Oklahoma, and the USS West Virginia. The USS Maryland, USS Pennsylvania, USS Tennessee, and USS Nevada were also hit by Japanese missiles. Altogether, there were more than 2,400 American soldiers and seamen killed that morning.
The USS Arizona is the final resting place of 1,177 of the men who were killed; nearly all of the crewmen of the Arizona perished with her. To honor those who had died, a flagpole was erected over the sunken battleship in 1950. In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved an official memorial, which was completed in 1961. The USS Arizona Memorial has become a monument to all the American men who died on 7 December 1941.
A few hours after the Pearl Harbor disaster, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his legendary speech to a joint session of Congress: "I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire." Within an hour, Congress had complied with the president's request and passed an official declaration of war against Japan, thus bringing the United States into World War II.
Do you have relatives who were stationed on the base at Pearl Harbor or on a U.S. navy ship there at the time of the attack? There are published Pearl Harbor casualty lists online, including the one at http://www.usswestvirginia.org/ph/phlist.php. The casualty list is searchable by surname and records the full name of each man killed, his rank and/or age, whether he was a civilian or whether he served in a branch of the military (most of the men killed were in the navy), and where he was stationed (the Pearl Harbor base itself or one of the ships docked there).
You can also access Pearl Harbor Muster Rolls with a subscription to www.fold3.com. These records list all men stationed on ships at Pearl Harbor from 1939 to 1947. The muster rolls list each man's full name and service number, the ship he served on and the date received on board, and the date he enlisted.
With all the records being uploaded online every day, learning more about the Pearl Harbor disaster-and the soldiers and seamen who were involved-is becoming easier and easier. And the 7th of December 1941 continues to be a date that will live in infamy.