Remembering a date that “will live in infamy”

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawai‘i. On 7 December 1941, 353 planes launched from six aircraft carriers of the Japanese Imperial Navy carried out the surprise attack, in which 19 U.S. ships were damaged or destroyed and 1,178 servicemen were wounded while 2,403 were killed.

The next day, 8 December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered one of the most famous addresses in American history to a shocked nation. Addressing a joint session of Congress, Mr. Roosevelt declared that the date of the attack would “live in infamy.” He outlined Japanese aggressions that were then taking place against the United States and its allies throughout the Pacific and he sought to stir up the nation in its resolve to fend off this threat. In closing, he asked Congress to make a formal declaration of war against Japan.

Within the hour Congress had done so, with only one dissenting vote: that of lifelong pacifist Jeannette Rankin, a Republic representative from Montana who was also the first female member of Congress. It was only the fifth war formally declared by Congress using the power given to it in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution; to this day World War II remains the last conflict for which Congress has passed a formal declaration of war.

The United States entered World War II, which would last until U.S. planes dropped the first, and so far only, atomic bombs used in war on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945. Starting in 1942, tens of thousands of Japanese Americans — loyal citizens of the United States — were sent to internment camps for the duration of the war.

To mark this anniversary, and to help teachers in their efforts to teach the complex events and issues surrounding World War II, the Great Documents Curriculum Series includes a new document with Mr. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech. In addition to the full transcript of the speech, with a number of footnotes to help readers understand people, places, and events referenced in the address, the document also includes the full text of the joint resolution passed by Congress to declare war on Japan. The document is just two pages — perfect for efficient front-back printing — and includes the other features of the Great Documents Curriculum Series.

This new documents comes on the heels of another new document in the series, John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, in which he made his resounding call, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” It was posted on 22 November 2016, the 53rd anniversary of his assassination in Dallas in 1963.

A digital preview of the newest addition to the Great Documents Curriculum Series is below. Both documents are available for purchase and digital download in PDF format for just on Scribd and Teachers Pay Teachers:

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