The Words of Pearl Harbor

April 29, 2017

Take a look through major events in world history and you’ll notice an aspect common to them all – every event can be defined by the words of the people who were part of it. Over 75 years ago, the United States was devastated by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Across the Pacific, the Japanese were reveling in their apparent victory. From both sides came unforgettable quotes, brief moments in time and words spoken by significant individuals that will forever be linked to that historic day. The history of Pearl Harbor is an intriguing and fascinating one marked by unforgettable words spoken by iconic men.

A Day of Infamy

Roosevelt Speech in StoneOn December 8th, 1941, the United States was still reeling from the surprise attack on the naval base at Pearl
Harbor, and the nation needed to hear from its leader. Franklin D. Roosevelt knew that the words he spoke within the first 24 hours after the attack could boost or break the nation’s resolve. His speech wouldn’t be taken lightly and so it became unlike any other he had delivered during his time as president.

The morning after the attack, Roosevelt addressed a nation in the grip of terror and anger, and somehow found it within himself to unite the nation at a time of such sorrow and tragedy.

The speech became known as the "Day of Infamy" speech, and December 7, 1941 will forever be remembered as “a date which will live in infamy.” “We must be the great arsenal of democracy,” he spoke, giving the United States military—and its citizens—a duty and purpose when all may have seemed hopeless.

The Japanese War Cry

Captain Mitsuo Fuchida

As the Japanese air fleet flew towards the Hawaiian Islands, it did so with a keen eye to the potentially dangerous situations they could be met with. Had they been discovered, it was unlikely that the mission would have even made a dent in the US Navy.

Leading the charge was Mitsuo Fuchida, an Imperial Navy Air Service aviator who assisted in coordinating the bombardment of Pearl Harbor. Fuchida isn’t remembered as one of the brains behind the attack, but for one simple word spoken three times that he transmitted over his radio.

As he flew closer to the naval base, it was clear that the United States had no idea what was coming. As a sign that the fleet had taken America by surprise, Fuchida transmitted “Tora! Tora! Tora!” The words became so engrained in history that there is a even movie about Pearl Harbor titled with that phrase.

Defining Pearl Harbor

Unforgettable words spoken by unforgettable men, a simple transmission and a national address quickly became the headlines for stories about the Pearl Harbor attack. They may just be words, but they’re now some of the most memorable words in American and Japanese history.

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