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By Leslie Larson
PUBLISHED: 13:37 EST, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 15:40 EST, 7 December 2012
Thousands of Americans gathered in Hawaii on Friday to mark the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had declared it a 'date which will live in infamy' when 2,390 service members and 49 civilians were killed in the early morning assault.
The deadly attacks on that fateful day prompted the United States to declare war on the Empire of Japan and millions of men and women from the 'Greatest Generation' answered the call to rise up in defense of freedom in World War II.
Scroll down for video of FDR's speech before Congress after the Pearl Harbor attacks
Assault: The USS Arizona burns after being hit by a Japanese bomb in Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
Damage: The battleships U.S.S. West Virginia (foreground) and U.S.S. Tennessee sit low in the water and burn after the Japanese surprise attack
Attack: USS Shaw exploded during the Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor
Explosion: During the attack on Pearl Harbor the USS California was hit while the USS Oklahoma capsizes
Horror: Airmen at the Ford Island Naval Air Station watched smoke and flames billow from the USS Shaw - blown up by Japanese bombers
Search for survivors: The battleship USS West Virginia burned in Pearl Harbor as a motorboat attempted to rescue seamen from the waters
Aftermath: Surveying the damage, rescuers frantically tried to extinguish the fire on the USS West Virginia (BB-48)
More than 2,000 people came to Pearl Harbor on Friday to remember those who perished in the devastating attack at the event hosted by the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service.
The USS Michael Murphy, a recently christened ship named after a Pearl Harbor-based Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan, sounded its ship's whistle Friday to start a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., marking the exact time the bombing began in 1941, according to the Associated Press.
Crew members lined the edge of the Navy guided-missile destroyer as it passed the USS Arizona, a battleship that still lies in the harbor where it sank. Hawaii Air National Guard F-22 fighter jets flew overhead in a special 'missing man' formation to break the silence.
Among those gathered for the ceremony were about 50 survivors of the attack.
Edwin Schuler, of San Jose, Calif., said he remembered going up to the bridge of his ship, the USS Phoenix, to read a book on a bright, sunny Sunday morning in 1941 when he saw planes dropping bombs.
'I thought: 'Whoa, they're using big practice bombs,' I didn't know,' said Schuler, 91.
War: President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress on December 8, 1941 to request a declaration of war on Japan in answer to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor
Conflict: Cabinet members watched with mixed emotions as Roosevelt, wearing a black armband, signed the United States' declaration of war against Japan at 4:10 p.m. Washington time on December 8, 1941
Schuler said he has returned for the annual ceremony about 30 times because it's important to spread the message of remembering Pearl Harbor.
Friday events also will give special recognition to members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, who flew noncombat missions during World War II, and to Ray Emory, a 91-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor who has pushed to identify the remains of unknown servicemen.
Admiral Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, gave the keynote address, giving examples of courage and heroism of military service members that day.
The ceremony also included a Hawaiian blessing, songs played by the U.S. Pacific Fleet band and a rifle salute from the U.S. Marine Corps.
In remembrance: Pearl Harbor survivors, from left, Clark Simmons, of Brooklyn, NY; Aaron Cahbin, of Bayside, NY; Armando Chick Galella, of Sleepy Hollow, NY; Chaplin William Kalaidjain, and Daniel Fruchter, of Eastchester, NY, at a ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York
In memory: Pearl Harbor survivor Armando Chick Galella, right, age 91, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., tosses a wreath into the Hudson River during ceremonies at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York
Gatherings were also held across the country, including at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. in New York, to remember the day.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama
called on Americans to remember the day and pay tribute to the men and
women whose lives were lost.
'We pay solemn tribute to America's sons
and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice at Oahu,' he said in a
'As we do, let us also reaffirm that their legacy will always burn bright - whether in the memory of those who knew them, the spirit of service that guides our men and women in uniform today, or the heart of the country they kept strong and free.'
He issued a presidential proclamation, calling for flags to fly at half-staff on Friday.
FDR's 'Day of Infamy' speech before Congress in response to the Pearl Harbor attacks
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7th, 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.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.
VIDEO: President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Speech to Congress on December 8, 1941