Taken from Writer’s Almanac
75 years ago: The United States had frozen Japanese assets and declared an embargo on shipments of petroleum and war materials to Japan. On the morning of December 7, soldiers at Pearl Harbor were learning how to use a new device called radar, and they detected a large number of planes heading toward them. They telephoned an officer, who said they must be American B-17s, and not to worry about it.
Because it was Sunday, there was a bonus ration of milk to go along with breakfast that morning. There was a sailor named James Jones in the mess hall, who later wrote From Here to Eternity (1951). He said, “It was not till the first low-flying fighter came whammering overhead with his [machine guns] going that we ran outside, still clutching our half-pints of milk to keep them from being stolen.”
The Japanese planes dropped bombs and torpedoes, and ships started capsizing and sinking. Altogether, 2,390 Americans were killed. President Roosevelt got on the radio, talked for less than 10 minutes, and said that December 7th was a day that would “live in infamy.” Congress declared war the following morning, and the United States officially entered WWII.