December 7th 1941, a Date that Will Live in Infamy

Ken Zino of on December 7th 1941, a Date that Will Live in Infamy

Detroit then became the arsenal of Democracy.

Early Sunday morning December 7th 1941, Japan attacked installations in and around Pearl Harbor. They killed 103 civilians and 2,335 military personnel – 2,008 Sailors (1,177 from the USS Arizona), 109 Marines, 218 Army. Japanese pilots, submariners damaged 19 ships and damaged or destroyed 300 aircraft. The USS ArizonaOklahoma, Utah were complete losses.

On December 8, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress, saying the attack on Pearl Harbor (along with attacks on Wake Island, Guam, Midway Atoll, and the Philippines) were “a date which will live in infamy.” One hour later, without Republican obstructionism or filibusters or attacks on voting rights and democracy, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan (Public Law 77-328, 55 STAT 795) by a vote of 82-0 in the Senate and 388-1 in the House of Representatives. Jeannette Rankin [R-MT] cast the dissenting vote. The United States joined Great Britain, France, Russia against the Axis fascist and imperial powers that included Germany, Italy, and Japan.

During the next 4 years, the United States sent ~16.1 million men and women to fight a global war on much of the European continent, deserts of North Africa, and the jungles, empty volcanic islands and coral atolls across the Pacific Ocean, according to the US Census.

In July 1944, the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48), the last of the Pearl Harbor attack’s most heavily damaged but repairable ships, returned to service. The so-called “Wee-Vee” saw action off the coast of Leyte, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. On September 2, 1945, the West Virginia anchored in Tokyo Bay as the United States accepted Japan’s formal surrender, ending World War II. To honor the Pearl Harbor survivor, the U.S. Navy asked the West Virginia’s band to perform during the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri.

You can learn more about the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and World War II using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and other federal agencies. For example:

  • The islands of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kauai, and Nihau were part of the Kingdom of Hawaii until a group of business men deposed the kingdom’s last monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani on January 17, 1893. On February 1, U.S. Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens proclaimed the islands a protectorate of the United States, and on July 4, 1894, Sanford B. Dole became president of the Republic of Hawaii. The United States annexed the islands on July 7, 1898, and it was known as the Territory of Hawaii from July 7, 1898, until August 21, 1959, when it was admitted to the Union as the 50th state.
  • The 1900 Census was the first U.S. census to include Hawaii. In that year, the territory’s population numbered 154,001. Shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 1940 Census recorded Hawaii’s population at 423,330—a 14.9 percent increase from 1930. In 1940, Hawaii’s most populous urban areas were Honolulu with 179,326; Hilo with 23,353; and Wailuku with 7,319. Lahaina, on the island of Maui, saw the greatest percentage increase among Hawaii’s cities, growing 91.1 percent from 2,730 to 5,217 between 1930 and 1940. Hawaii became the United States’ 50th state on August 21, 1959, and in 1960 its population was 632,772. In 2015, the Census Bureau estimated Hawaii’s population was 1,431,603. Oahu is the most populous of the state’s eight main islands with an estimated population of 998,714.
  • Japan conducted a census on October 1, 1940, which found its population was 73,114,308. A post-war census conducted on November 1, 1945, showed the population decreased 1.5 percent to 71,998,104. Seventy years later, the 2015 Population Census of Japan reported the nation had approximately 127.11 million people.
  • As a result of East Asian immigration, the first Asian response category (“Chinese”) was added to the question on race in California only in 1860 and nationwide in 1870. In 1870, the “Chinese” population was 63,254. In 1890, the census included “Chinese” and “Japanese” as responses to the race question, counting 107,488 Chinese and 2,039 Japanese. Prior to America’s entry into World War II, the 1940 Census recorded the nation’s Japanese population at 126,947. In 2010, 1,304,286 people reported they were Japanese alone or in combination with one or more other races.
  • The 1940 Census of Agriculture in Hawaii found that more farms (1,503) grew sugarcane than any other crop. Hawaiian farms harvested 135,945 acres of sugarcane and produced a record 8,535,023 tons of the crop. By 2012, land devoted to sugarcane fell to approximately 33,400 acres. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that coffee and macadamia nuts were Hawaii’s most valuable crops in 2015, with an approximate value of $49.2 million and $45.6 million, respectively.
  • The 1939 Census of Business in Hawaii found the territory was home to 1,101 grocery stores, 482 restaurants, 116 hotels, 161 drinking establishments, and 155 automotive repair shops. In 2012, Hawaii had 494 grocery stores (NAICS 4451), 2,841 restaurants and other eating establishments (NAICS 7225), 300 traveler accommodation establishments (including hotels and motels, NAICS 7211), 228 drinking establishments (NAICS 7224), and 473 automotive repair and maintenance shops (NAICS 8111).
  • The September 27, 1940, signing of the Tripartite Pact formally allied the “Axis Powers” of Germany, Italy, and Japan. In that year, the census reported that 126,947 Japanese (including 47,305 who were foreign-born) lived in the United States. The nation’s foreign-born population also included 1,237,772 Germans and 1,623,580 Italians. In total, the United States foreign-born population was 11,419,138, with the largest number living in New York (2,853,530), Pennsylvania (973,260), and Illinois (969,373).
  • Although the attack on Pearl Harbor took the island by surprise, eight Army Air Force pilots managed to get airborne. Six pilots received credit for shooting down at least one Japanese airplane during the attack—1st Lt. Lewis M. Sanders and 2nd Lts. Philip Rasmussen, Kenneth M. Taylor, George S. Welch, Gordon H. Sterling, Jr., and Harry W. Brown.
  • For acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty during the December 7, 1941, attacks at Pearl Harbor and Wake Island, the United States awarded the Medal of Honor to 16 servicemen, including USS Arizona Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd and Lieutenant Commander Samuel G. Fuqua; USS West Virginia Captain Mervyn Bennion; Naval Air Station Kane’ohe Bay Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John W. Finn [Finn was the last surviving Pearl Harbor Medal of Honor recipient, dying at age 100 in May 2010.]; USS California Ensign Herbert C. Jones; USS Vestal Commander Cassin Young; and Midway Atoll Marine Corps 1st Lt. George H. Cannon.
  • There were 103 civilian casualties resulting from Japanese and friendly fire in Hawaii on December 7. Civilian deaths included Honolulu firemen John Carriera, Thomas Macy, and Harry Pang; Hickham Field employee Phillipe Ward Eldred; Pearl Harbor shipyard employees Joseph and John Kalauwae Adams and Joseph McCabe; Honolulu restaurateur Jitsuo Hirasaki and his children, Jackie (age 8), Robert (age 3), and Shirley (age 2); 3-year-old Rowena Kamohaulani Foster of Pearl City; Tomoso Kimura of Waipahu; 12-year-old Matilda Kaliko Faufata; and Kane’hoe Bay Naval Air Station construction worker Kamiko Hookano.
  • In response to the Office of Management and Budget’s Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity, the 2000 Census was the first to include “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” (NHPI) as a minimum reporting category for the race question. In that year, 874,414 respondents identified as NHPI alone-or-in-combination with some other race. In Hawaii, 23.3 percent (282,667) of the population reported being NHPI alone-or-in-combination with another race. Ten years later, the nation’s NHPI alone-or-in-combination was 1,225,195. Hawaii’s NHPI population grew nearly 26 percent to 355,816. Triple-digit increases were reported for the NHOI alone-or-in-combination populations of Arkansas (150.8 percent), Nevada (102.3 percent) and Alaska (102.2 percent).
  • Data from 2010 Census found that Hawaii is the only state in which the majority of the population (57.4 percent) reported they are Asian alone or in combination with one or more other races.
  • Approximately 16.1 million Americans served in the Armed Forces during World War II. By 2015, the American Community Survey estimated that just 930,477 World War II veterans were still living in the United States.
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