December 7, 1941 Just before 8:00 in the morning, a fleet of hundreds of Japanese Imperial war planes begins a surprise military attack on a US naval base in Hawaii. The attack was a pre-emptive strike designed to prevent the US hindering further Japanese military actions in south-east Asia. Around 2,400 Americans were killed and a number of war ships as well as 188 US planes were destroyed. Around 65 Japanese airmen were killed or wounded.
President Franklin Roosevelt referred to the attack as “a date which will live in infamy” and the following day, on December 8, the United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II in both the Pacific and European theatres.
Also on December 7: Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the US constitution (1787); Indonesia invades East Timor (1975); a magnitude 6.9 earthquake destroys Spitak in Armenia (1988).
Born on December 7: Eli Wallach (1915), Noam Chomsky (1928), Hermann Maier (1972), Damien Rice (1973), Robert Kubica (1984).