On of Dec. 7, 1941, the tranquil Hawaiian morning was shattered by a brutal attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, drawing a formerly isolationist United States into World War II.
The attack killed 2,402 American service members and damaged or destroyed more than a dozen Pacific Fleet ships, including the USS Arizona.
Out of WWII, AMVETS was born, and this afternoon, AMVETS leaders will be on hand at Arlington National Cemetery for a solemn wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns, in memory of the American service members who lost their lives on this day.
In a speech to Congress immediately following the attack, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt labeled Dec. 7, 1941 as "a date which will live in infamy" and asked for a formal declaration of war in response to the premeditated Japanese aggression.
As a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans who had opposed intervention against Nazi aggression in Europe and Japanese advances in the Pacific, were suddenly drawn into a fight for the preservation of our way of life.
Leading up to the final Nazi surrender in May of 1945 and the Japanese surrender the following August, more than 416,800 American service members would give their lives in defense of our nation.
In the decades that have followed WWII, AMVETS has continued to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who fought and perished at Pearl Harbor. AMVETS played an integral role in commissioning, funding, renovating, and maintaining the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, which rests atop the sunken hull of the battleship where 1,102 service members remain entombed.
The attack on the USS Arizona was responsible for nearly half all American casualties in the attack on Pearl Harbor, with 1,177 of the ship's 1,400-man crew dying in the attack.
It is with a heavy heart that we, as Americans, recall the horrors of Dec. 7, 1941, but we must continue to look forward as a nation, and remember the sacrifices of the brave men and women who gave everything to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.
(Photo: The USS Arizona burns in Pearl Harbor after the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941. U.S. Navy photo, released.)