LOS ANGELES — In just over seven minutes, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave voice to a nation's outrage, branding Dec. 7 as a "date which will live in infamy" for Japan's attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Within an hour, Congress had voted a declaration of war.
As he and other presidents before have done in accordance with federal law, President Barack Obama on Thursday proclaimed Dec. 7 as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."
"I encourage all Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I urge all federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this Dec. 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor," the proclamation notes.
Roosevelt's speech is considered one of the masterpieces of political action of the 20th century and its luster has grown brighter. The actual memory of World War II may have dimmed, but the Americans of that era have more recently been hailed as "the greatest generation" in books, film and television for their public service during an event that redrew the nation's social mores.