Famous quotes about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor begin with these, informing the Kido Butai aircraft carrier Akagi that the air raid occurred and that it achieved the element of surprise:
“TO, TO TO” (short for totsugeki, meaning “charge,” indicating the attack had begun)
“Tora-Tora-Tora!” (indicating surprise was achieved).
— Japanese Commander Mitsuo Fuchida’s signals to Akagi
But undoubtedly the most famous quote about the Pearl Harbor attack was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request to Congress for a declaration of war the following day:
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941-a date which will live in infamy-the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan… No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people will through their righteous might win through to absolute victory… With confidence in our armed forces-with the unbounded determination of our people-we will gain the inevitable triumph-so help us God. I, therefore, ask that the Congress declare that since the dastardly and unprovoked attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire (hear the entire speech on audio).”
— President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dec. 8, 1941, speech asking Congress to declare war on Japan
Key points of interest about this famous quote: Roosevelt wrote the speech himself except for the next to last line which was contributed by FDR advisor Harry Hopkins. The line “a date which will live in infamy” originally read “a date which will live in world history,” which didn’t have quite the same ring.
“Before we’re through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in Hell.”
–Vice Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, spoken from his flagship Enterprise upon returning to Pearl Harbor and seeing the wreckage that included his scout aircraft. Halsey was renowned for his dislike of the Japanese.
“To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all!… Hitler’s fate was sealed. Mussolini’s fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.”
— English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, writing in a memoir about his reaction to FDR’s Dec. 7 , 1941 telephone call to inform him of the attack
“The fate of the Empire rests on this enterprise. Every man must devote himself totally to the task in hand.”
— Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of the Japanese Navy, Dec. 7, 1941
“A threatening [political] opposition was gathering over the head of this man [Roosevelt]. He guessed that the only salvation for him lay in diverting public attention from home to foreign policy… He was strengthened in this by the Jews around him… The full diabolical meanness of Jewry rallied around this man and he stretched out his hands. Thus began the increasing efforts of the American President to create conflicts… For years this man harbored one desire — that a conflict should break out somewhere in the world… The fact that the Japanese Government, which has been negotiating for years with this man, has at last become tired of being mocked by him in such an unworthy way, fills us all, the German people, and all other decent people in the world, with deep satisfaction… As a consequence of the further extension of President Roosevelt’s policy, which is aimed at unrestricted world domination and dictatorship, the U.S.A. together with England have not hesitated from using any means to dispute the rights of the German, Italian and Japanese nations to the basis of their natural existence … in these historic times, the existence or non-existence of the nations, is being decided perhaps forever.”
— German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, referring to the Pearl Harbor attack in a Dec. 11, 1941 speech in the Reichstag