"December 7, a date which will live in infamy," is how then-U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt described the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the American naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii.
Tuesday marks the 80th anniversary of the surprise strike on the U.S. Pacific Fleet that killed more than 2,400 service members and civilians, wounded about 1,000 people, and damaged or destroyed almost 20 ships and more than 300 aircraft in less than two hours.
The next day, Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan, and the lawmakers approved the move.
Just three days later, Germany and Italy, Japan's allies, declared war on the United States. The U.S. reciprocated, entering World War II, which had been raging in Europe for more than two years.
About 150 World War II veterans, including about 40 survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, are attending a ceremony of remembrance Tuesday at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Hawaii. The 80th National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Commemoration will include a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the exact time the attack began.
U.S. President Joe Biden, accompanied by first lady Jill Biden, laid a wreath early Tuesday at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington.
“As we mark National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day,” the president said on Twitter, “we honor the patriots who perished, commemorate the valor of all those who defended our nation, and recommit ourselves to carrying forth the ensuing peace and reconciliation that brought a better future for our world.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noted “the ranks of Pearl Harbor survivors grow thinner with each passing year. But the memory of their heroism — and our gratitude — still shine bright.”
“We remain committed to defending the free and open Indo-Pacific that these heroes built. And we remain committed to maintaining the international rules-based order that they forged, one that raised billions of people out of poverty and made the world a more prosperous place -- not just for one nation's people, but for people across the globe,” Austin said in a statement Tuesday marking the 80th anniversary of the attack.
The Hawaii commemoration is being held in person for the first time since 2019. Last year's event was virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year's event will also be livestreamed.
Survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack are now in their late 90s or older.
Many of the veterans arrived in Hawaii on Friday from Dallas, Texas, on a plane chartered for the occasion. The ABC News affiliate in Dallas, WFAA, spoke to the veterans at the airport in the city.
Navy veteran Lieutenant Commander Cass Phillips, a 101-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor, told the outlet, "I was 21 at that time."
John Pildner said that he was in the Army before he could even vote, from 1944 to 1946. "If I could do it again, I would," he added.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. military is reburying the remains of service personnel killed when the USS Oklahoma was attacked in Pearl Harbor, following a yearslong project to identify their remains. The burials will be in Honolulu's National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
The Pentagon project identified nearly 400 service members from the ship with the help of DNA technology and dental records, leaving the remains of only 33 people from the ship not individually identified, according to a report in The Washington Post.
The Oklahoma was sunk during the attack, which was carried out by a Japanese force that included 353 aircraft, 35 submarines, two battleships and 11 destroyers, according to a U.S. census report.
"I encourage all Americans to reflect on the courage shown by our brave warriors that day and remember their sacrifices," U.S. President Joe Biden said earlier this month in a National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day proclamation. "I ask us all to give sincere thanks and appreciation to the survivors of that unthinkable day."