U.S. #2559i was based on a U.S. navy photo picturing the West Virginia and the Tennessee.

“A date which will live in infamy”

On December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers attacked American troops at Pearl Harbor, catapulting the U.S. into World War II.

Imperial Japan had visions of controlling Southeast Asia. They needed the natural resources there to continue their war efforts, but the military presence of the United States prevented them from expanding their territory. And so, they began planning a surprise attack, targeting battleships in an effort to eliminate America’s influence in the region.

Item # M8057 – Mint stamp sheet with artist’s rendition of the attack.

December 7, 1941, was a quiet, sunny morning in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where the U.S. Pacific Fleet was anchored at the Naval Base. That peace was shattered by the sound of approaching aircraft. The skies were quickly darkened by 353 Japanese planes launching torpedoes, bombs, and bullets. Sailors aboard the battleships anchored in the harbor awoke to a message from headquarters, “Air raid on Pearl Harbor. This is no drill,” from the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet.

U.S. #4443 – Miller was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions at Pearl Harbor.

Amidst the chaos and destruction, heroes like Doris “Dorie” Miller, a Mess Attendant on the USS West Virginia, emerged. Finding his battle station ruined, Miller helped carry wounded sailors to safety, including the captain of the West Virginia. With no other wounded in sight, Miller then manned a .50-caliber anti-aircraft gun, even though he’d never been trained in its use. That didn’t prevent him from shooting down three confirmed Japanese planes, long with three more unconfirmed. As torpedoes blew through the deck, the crew was ordered to abandon ship. Miller dived overboard as the West Virginia settled to the harbor floor. Miller was one of several American servicemen to risk his life in the aid of others that day.

U.S. #1305 – Roosevelt called the attack “a date which will live in infamy.”

The attack ended after 90 minutes, and all eight battleships were either damaged or destroyed, in addition to cruisers, destroyers, and a minelayer ship. The most devastating loss, though, was that of more than 2,000 American lives.  The Japanese military had hoped an attack of this size would discourage the United States from committing to war, but it had the opposite effect. As Admiral Hara Tadaichi said, “We won a great tactical victory at Pearl Harbor and thereby lost the war.”

U.S. #2559j – Like #2559i above, this painting was based on a period photograph.

The bombing galvanized support for America’s involvement in World War II. The following day, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress for a Declaration of War against Japan, calling December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.” It took Congress just 33 minutes to declare war on Japan, after which Germany and Italy quickly declared war on the United States.

All of America committed itself to the war effort. Young men enlisted by the thousands, housewives contributed by rationing, and young women manned factory assembly lines. Over the coming years, virtually every United States citizen contributed to the war effort, eventually leading to Allied victory.

U.S. #4873 – The Arizona was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

Among the ships destroyed at Pearl Harbor was the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 of its crew – about half the lives lost that day. Some of the ship was salvaged for use on other boats, but the hull and two gun turrets sat submerged in 40 feet of water. In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the site as a national memorial, and public and private donations were used to finance it. Among the fundraising efforts was a benefit concert by Elvis Presley that collected over $50,000. The memorial was dedicated in 1962.

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  1. One must also consider that American intelligence failed to comprehend the Japanese threat in the Pacific. In the 1920s and 1930s there were those who sincerely believed that Japanese airmen could not fly combat missions because they all wore heavy glasses. I found this in the Mitchell Papers when I researched for my biography of Billy Mitchell. Japanese deception plans were first rate, and
    we lost track of where the fleet was. Japanese training for the attack was conducted with no
    leaks at all. We should never lose track of just how well this attack was planned and that US intelligence never expected such an assault, and we were caught flatfooted. James J. Cooke, Professor Emeritus of History, U. of Mississippi

    1. You are so right. The U.S. was caught flatfooted. Intelligence was there if only
      someone could have connected the dots. One example was the Japanese Consulate
      in Honolulu was observed burning papers for better than 2 days. You would have
      thought that this alone would have raised suspicions, especially with all the other
      intel. It just was never put together. It was just lucky that our Carriers were out at
      sea at that moment.

      1. Mr. Snyder is quite right. It does appear that no one in authority saw fit to pass on a key indicator, the burning of documents etc. Also, General W. Short was fixed on sabotage by the Japanese population, and violated the simple methods of security. Short had a bad reputation dating back to WWI when he was on Pershing’s staff at Chaumont. Once he had an idea it became the way Short wanted it done. He would not listen to better informed subordinates. The placing of aircraft, by Short’s order, insured that the Japanese flyers had a field day. If Short was
        so concerned why didn’t he make better use of vehicle mounted MPs to secure the aircraft.? There was no way that ground crews could get to all of the aircraft and get them ready to fly. Some aircraft could have been saved. Remember there was no Air Force as we know it. It was the Army Air Corps, and army general Short’s orders had the force of an eleventh commandment. One of the sadess person that day was Admiral Kimmel. I say that as an army combat veteran.

  2. On this day I wish I could give tis one 6 stars. God bless the people who served that day
    and the rest of the war. If it happened today, I fear our resolve would not be the same and
    the outlook a lot different.

    1. I already served in the Navy,& in the event something like this ever happened,this Sailor would go back in a second. If they’d have me of course,I am coming up on 59.hahaha

  3. On this day in history a vicious mentality was exposed to the western world. That part of the world had a different view of life and death. They would attempt to integrate that mentality with western imperialism and it would take cataclysmic explosion to stop it. Our nation has fought for the principles of freedom since this nation was formed. That mentality is still out there.

  4. That day the enemy awoke a sleeping giant. Never underestimate the abilities of those who seek to destroy us. Never forget the history that defines us as a Great Country of Freedoms; for if we do, we are doomed to repeat it. Great articles.

  5. My Dad was at pearl after the bomming and I was stationed there in 1965 to 1967 . It is a wonderful sight. and the real hero,s are still aboard

  6. A tragedy in American history… Looks like more to come if we are unable to learn from history.
    GOD bless America!!! God bless those brave men and women who are serving and those who have served.

  7. Always informative, however I take exception with the “one of several to risk his life”, it was one of many who answer the call to help save lives.

  8. To all those who lost their lives and to all of the families who suffered the loss of their loved ones at Pearl Harbor. RIP and God Bless. Thank you. Thanks Mystic, great reminder of a horrific day in the history of our country. Your message gives us pause for reflection on the true cost of our freedom.

  9. A well-written piece. I do agree with Professor Cooke’s statements about the failure of intelligence, and I might add, the failure of those evaluating incoming information. We seem not to have learned from this lesson, and have been “caught flatfooted” time and again. Thank you, Mystic Stamp, for remembering the day.

  10. What would our current President have done? Just wondering. Would he have
    tries to negotiate with them vis a vis Iran.

  11. Hard to believe it was 74 years ago. My Mom was just a young girl when we were attacked and she remembers it like it was yesterday.

  12. I was 14 at the time and into the Navy before it was over. Every American should visit Ford Island and see the Arizona Memorial, the Battleship MO and the other things there. Makes you relive our history so we won’t forget.

  13. Doris Miller had never been trained to fire an anti-aircraft gun because in the segregated navy, the only job open to a black man was as a messman. Dorie Miller was a Messman Third Class. Miller later died in action when in 1943 his ship, U.S.S. Liscome Bay, was sunk by a Japanese submarine.

  14. Great It is a shame that we don’t study our history in detail today because we are sadly doomed to repeat it. Maybe not by Zero’s but by new more sinister methods.

  15. My father who was born a little over a year after the attack was named for his uncle who had lost his life that morning.

  16. A great article. I often wonder if North America will be similarly affected by lack of forward thinking of continental protection.

    Spent much of my shipboard and submarine time in Pearl Harbour while in the Royal Canadian Navy.

    As a student of history I am fearful the history repeats itself.

    We need a combined US/Canada think tank to explore what is, what could be, and what should be done in view of current “wars”.

    But, “on the street” nobody seems to worry.

    I do!

  17. Roosevelt had plenty of indication. It was Churchill’s last attempt to get America into the war, [ don’t forget he had been 1st Lord of the Admiralty, and they had broken the Japanese code earlier.]
    That’s why our carriers were not in dock that day. The ships that were destroyed were old and pretty much useless. I think they thought a little attack would be cool. However, they vastly underestimated the Japanese abilities to pull this off; killing over a 1000 men! Surprise.
    kinda like 9/11.

  18. Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor commenced at 07.45 hrs and lasted only 110 minutes till 09.35. The American losses ::: 8 U.S. Navy battle ships damaged, 18 battle ships sunk, three cruisers, three destroyers, one anti-aircraft ship, one mine layer, 188 U.S. air crafts destroyed, 2403 Americans killed, 1178 wounded, 153 planes damaged . JAPANESE LOSSES ::: 29 air crafts , five submarines, 55 airmen, 9 sailors, and ONLY ONE JAPANESE SAILOR named Kazuo Sakamaki was captured by Americans . December 7 is observed as Pearl Harbor Day but it is not a Federal Holiday. However, schools, educational institutes, many establishments fly the American Flag at half-mast, out of respect for those dead/wounded in Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 .Thank you MYSTIC for a write up on Pearl Harbor attack.

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