Post-note: Two years later, in November 1989, East Germans issued a decree for the wall to be opened, allowing people to travel freely into West Berlin. In some cases, families that had been separated for decades were finally reunited. The wall was torn down altogether by the end of 1990 upon the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and in Soviet Russia itself, marking the end of the Cold War era.
At 7:53 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the first assault wave of Japanese fighter planes attacked the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, taking the Americans completely by surprise.
The first wave targeted airfields and battleships. The second wave targeted other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasted until 9:45 a.m. Eight battleships were damaged, with five sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels were lost along with 188 aircraft. The Japanese lost 27 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor and launch torpedoes.
Three prime targets; the U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga, were not in the harbor and thus escaped damage.
The casualty list at Pearl Harbor included 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians killed, and 1,178 wounded. Over a thousand crewmen aboard the USS Arizona battleship were killed after a 1,760 pound aerial bomb penetrated the forward magazine causing catastrophic explosions.
See also: Pearl Harbor Slide Show - 20 photos
News of the "sneak attack" was broadcast to the American public via radio bulletins, with many popular Sunday afternoon entertainment programs being interrupted. The news sent a shockwave across the nation, resulting in a tremendous influx of young volunteers into the U.S. Armed Forces. The attack also united the nation behind President Franklin D. Roosevelt and effectively ended the American isolationist movement.
On Monday, December 8th, President Roosevelt appeared before Congress and made this speech asking for a declaration of war against Japan, calling the previous day "...a date which will live in infamy..."