Archive for December, 2014

'Twas the Last Ride Before Christmas

‘Twas the Last Ride Before Christmas

I’m going to be taking some time off from work for the holidays, so this was my last D.C. bike ride for the year for this blog. I’m actually taking the next few weeks off because, as a Federal employee, if I do not use a specified amount of my accrued vacation time before the end of the year the government will take it away. But for this ride, I commuted to the office anyway. I then got on one of my bikes that I keep in the parking garage of the office building where I work, and spent the entire day just riding around the D.C. area to see and enjoy the Christmas decorations and holiday spirit, which can be found almost everywhere.  It was a great ride to end the year.

As I’ve stated previously in this blog, I am not a photographer. I’m just a guy that goes for bike rides on my lunch break at work, and takes a few snapshots of the places I go to and the things I see along the way. On this ride I took more photos than usual. My favorite photo (above) from this leisurely bike ride is the one of a Christmas tree and holiday wreath left at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, with the image of both my bike and The Washington Monument reflecting off the polished granite panels containing the names of the servicemen and women who were killed or classified as missing in action during the Vietnam War. The photo seems to portray at the same time both the joy of the season as well as the solemnity of the memorial.

Some of the other photos (below) which I’ve included with this blog post show several of the places which I have already visited this year and then wrote about in this blog, as well as some other places I intend to visit again and learn more about in the coming year.  You can click on the thumbnails for full-size photos.

In order, these photos show: (1) Giant wreathes hanging at the front of Union Station in D.C., one of the busiest train stations in the country. You can get a sense of the size of the wreathes by comparing them to the size of the people standing beneath them. (2) Toy soldiers standing guard at the entrance to the Old Ebbit Grill on 15th Street, D.C.’s oldest bar and restaurant. (3) Holiday wreathes on the old Sun Trust Building on 15th Street, across the street from the U.S. Treasury Department Building. (4) Holiday garlands, wreathes and bows adorning the entrance to The Historic Willard Hotel. (5) The D.C. Fire Department’s Truck No. 3 Fire Station on 13th Street in northwest D.C., which is decorated and lit up with Christmas lights. (6) The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is one of the memorials where wreathes are laid by Wreathes Across America, the group that supplies the Christmas wreathes at Arlington National Cemetery. (7) The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, with a tomb guard in the foreground “walking the mat.” The wreathes in front of the sarcophagus and graves are also part of the tribute at the cemetery by Wreathes Across America. (8) Some of the more than 230,000 wreathes at Arlington National Cemetery which adorn the rows of white marble headstones. (9) Wreathes were also placed by Wreathes Across America at gravesites at The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame. (10) The Woodrow Wilson House, the home of the only President to remain in D.C. after leaving office, is also decorated for the holidays. (11) One of the several outdoor holiday markets that spring up throughout the city in the time leading up to Christmas. This one is The Downtown Holiday Market, which is currently in its 11th year.  (12)  If you’re fortunate, you can also happen upon live musiccal performances.  This one was taking place on the sidewalk in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery between 7th and 9th Streets in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood.  (13) The Krispy Kreme doughnut shop across from The Fountain at DuPont Circle is an excellent place to stop for an early morning snack when riding around the city to see the holiday decorations, especially when the “Hot Now” neon light is lit up.  And even they decorated for the season. (14) An outdoor craft show and flea market on Capitol Hill. (15) A Christmas tree stand at Eastern Market selling fresh-cut Christmas trees. (16) The White House gates included decorative bows for the holidays. (17) The National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse at President’s Park just south of the White House. (18) The Capitol Christmas Tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building grounds. (19) Festively decorated Christmas trees, like this one, could be seen in the windows of stores and office buildings on almost every block.  (20) And the final photo is of a bike-themed ornament that I saw on the Capitol Christmas Tree, which seemed too relevant to not be included in this blog post.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you reading this, whether you are here in D.C. and anywhere else around the world, a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

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The Ice Skating Rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

The Ice Skating Rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

The circular reflecting pool at the center of the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden is transformed during the cold winter months each year into an outdoor ice skating rink. It has become an extremely popular winter destination, particularly for skating enthusiasts. And although I am not an ice skater myself, it was also my destination, at least for this lunchtime bike ride.

Ice skating has been a popular activity on the National Mall for well over a hundred years, with unofficial skating sites located at the Tidal Basin and The Reflecting Pool in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, the actual ice skating rink did not open until 1974. And it did not open in its current form until 1999. Because the ice rink had been operating at the site since for more than twenty years, it was included in the National Gallery of Art’s plans for the Sculpture Garden when it was conceived in 1996.

In its current location as part of the Sculpture Garden, visitors have the opportunity to skate while surrounded not only by the grand architecture of national museums and monuments, but by large outdoor sculptures and exhibits displayed by the National Gallery of Art. These sculptures include works by world-renowned artists, such as “Four-Sided Pyramid” by Sol LeWitt and Claes Oldenburg’s “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X“, to name just a couple. In all, there are nineteen works of modern and contemporary sculpture on the richly landscaped grounds surrounding the ice rink.

The ice rink can accommodate more than two hundred skaters, with a music system that brings vibrant sound to visitors on and off the ice. And at night, lighting further contributes to the festive atmosphere. This year, the gallery’s guest services will offer both skating and ice hockey lessons, for which students can register individually or with a group. There is also a snack shop named the Pavilion Café, which offers a panoramic view of the Sculpture Garden and ice rink in addition to a variety of food and beverages.

Located just off the National Mall at 700 Constitution Avenue (MAP) in downtown, D.C., the ice rink opened in mid-November and will remain open through March 16, 2015, weather permitting. The rink is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. On Sunday, it’s open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. The ice-skating rink will close at 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve, and will be closed on December 25 and January 1. Admission for a two hour session costs $8 for adults. And if you don’t have your own skates, they can be rented for an additional $3. A season pass that covers unlimited access to the ice rink is also available for $195.

Whether you’re an avid skater or have never tried it before, I highly recommend visiting the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Skating Rink at least once this winter. Who knows, you may enjoy it so much that, like many other people already have, you’ll want to make it an annual winter tradition.

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The Capitol Christmas Tree

The Capitol Christmas Tree

On this bike ride I stopped by to see the Capitol Christmas Tree, also known as “The People’s Tree,” which is located on the West Lawn on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building (MAP).  The tree was officially unveiled and lit by Speaker of the House John Boehner during a ceremony earlier this month.

The regular practice of displaying a Christmas tree on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building is relatively recent. Correspondence from 1919 in the records of the Architect of the Capitol indicates that a Christmas tree was purchased that year. However, it was not until 1964 that a definite procedure was initiated and a tree-lighting ceremony established, and the Capitol Christmas Tree became an annual holiday tradition.

In 1964, Speaker of the House John William McCormack suggested to J. George Stewart, the Architect of the Capitol, that a Christmas tree be placed on the Capitol Grounds. That year a live 24-foot Douglas fir was purchased for $700 from Buddies Nursery in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, and planted on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Then each year through 1967 the tree was decorated and a tree-lighting ceremony was held. Unfortunately, a combination of factors, including a severe wind storm in the spring of 1967 and root damage, caused the tree to die in 1968. It was removed that same year.

The Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture, has provided the trees since 1969. The annual tradition has become an honor for one national forest, which then works with partners throughout the state where the tree will be harvested.

This year, the Forest Service partnered with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Choose Outdoors, Inc., to harvest this year’s tree from the Chippewa National Forest in Cass Lake, Minnesota. It travelled over 3,700 miles on its way to D.C., passing through and stopping to visit 30 different communities across the country before arriving at the Capitol Building just before Thanksgiving. It is a White Spruce, and at 88 feet it tied for being the second-tallest tree ever used at the Capitol (behind 1989’s tree which was a foot taller, and tied with last year’s tree). It is also taller than either the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House, or the famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The Capitol Christmas Tree is decorated with thousands of LED lights, as well as thousands of ornaments, handcrafted by children and others from numerous Minnesota communities as a gift from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

The Capitol Christmas Tree should not to be confused with The National Christmas Tree, which is near the White House and lighted every year by the president and first lady. The Speaker of the House officially lights the The People’s Tree, which remains lit from dusk until 11 p.m. each evening through January 1, 2015.

The National Menorah

The National Menorah

The National Menorah, which is considered the world’s largest, is located on The Ellipse in President’s Park (MAP), near The National Christmas Tree just south of the White House. Because tonight is the 35th-annual White House lighting ceremony of the National Menorah, I decided to make it the destination for this lunchtime bike ride.

The lighting of the Menorah marks the first of the eight nights of Chanukah. Perhaps the most prominent public Chanukah program in the world, the National Menorah lighting ceremony is attended by thousands of people every year. It is also seen via television newscasts, live internet feeds and through other media by tens of millions of people across the nation and around the world. And since many of them are not near any Jewish community, it makes it possible for them to properly celebrate and enjoy Chanukah in a way that they might not otherwise be able to do.

The first public menorah on record in the United States was lit in 1974 at Independence Mall in Philadelphia as part of a campaign initiated by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson to raise awareness of the holiday and support for holding public menorah lightings. Five years later, a public Menorah appeared for the first time in D.C., helping it to become a premier national and even international symbol of the festival of Chanukah. It was attended in 1979 during the midst of the Iran hostage crisis by President Jimmy Carter, who shared greetings with the assembled crowd and then lit the shamash, which is the helper candle from which the others are kindled. Every president since has recognized Chanukah with a special menorah-lighting. And in 1982, the menorah lit in Lafayette Park was referred to by President Ronald Reagan as the “National Menorah,” and the moniker stuck.

Over time, the unifying initiative of public menorah lightings has become such a sensation that it has inspired many communities across the globe to sponsor more and greater public menorah lighting ceremonies of their own. Today, there are lighting ceremonies at such locations such as the Sydney Opera House, Moscow’s Red Square, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Hong Kong Harbor, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and, obviously, the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

It has become a tradition for Cabinet-level Federal officials to assist in the lighting of the National Menorah. This year, however, Vice President Joe Biden will assist in the lighting. The ceremony will take place at 4 p.m., but attendees are encouraged to arrive as early as possible due to security measures.

If you can’t be there in person, you can not only watch it live, but you can participate in the annual celebration of Chanukah online through “Virtual Chanukah.” Through innovative concepts like Olive Drops, CyberDreidle, e-mitzvot, etc., Jews anywhere can illuminate their homes and lives with the special glow and meaning of the Chanukah lights, celebrating the victory of right over might, good over evil, and light over darkness.

Chag Sameach.

The Wreathes at Arlington National Cemetery

The Wreathes at Arlington National Cemetery

For the past 23 years, one of the most iconic annual holiday traditions in the D.C. area has been the placing of hundreds of thousands of evergreen Christmas wreathes with red bows at the white headstones marking the rows and rows of gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery.  This past Saturday, December 13th, volunteers descended on Arlington National to help an organization named “Wreathes Across America” continue the tradition, now officially known as National Wreathes Across America Day, by placing wreaths again this year. In recognition and in support of this event, I rode across the Arlington Memorial Bridge and down The Esplanade to Arlington National Cemetery (MAP) on this lunchtime bike ride.

Wreaths Across America is not affiliated with any religion or political view. Their mission is to remember all of the fallen, honor their families, and teach children about the freedoms for which so much was sacrificed. Because they are a guest at the more than 900 participating cemeteries they visit each year, they abide by each cemetery’s rules when it comes to the placement of wreaths on veterans’ headstones. At those cemeteries without a formal policy, they do not place a wreath on the headstones of those graves marked with the Star of David, out of respect for Jewish custom. Instead, they simply pause and pay their respects. The only exception is when families of the deceased request a wreath, and then their wishes are honored.

The wreathes placed at the graves in Arlington National, as well as 544 other cemeteries and locations in all fifty states and overseas, are made in Maine by The Worchester Wreath Company, whose president, Morrill Worcester, started the annual event in 1992.   The wreathes left Maine last Monday in a convoy of eleven trucks that was escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders, an organization whose members, at the invitation of a decedent’s family, attend the funerals of members of the military, as well as firefighters and police. They form an honor guard at military burials, which helps protect mourners from harassment, and fill out the ranks at burials of indigent and homeless veterans. The Patriot Guard Riders also greets troops returning from overseas at homecoming celebrations and performs volunteer work for veteran’s organizations.

Wreathes Across America expects to exceed last year’s shipments of 540,000 wreaths, all of which adorn veterans’ graves. Of that number, over 230,000 of them were place at Arlington National.  For the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery, Wreaths Across America met its goal of having a wreath for every headstone of each veteran buried there.   It should be noted that organization receives no government funding for this annual tradition. Until 2009, The Worcester Wreath Company did not accept donations and funded the project itself. The organization has since expanded to include fundraising groups throughout the country representing more than 900 cemeteries, military memorials and other locations, along with Arlington National Cemetery. To sponsor a wreath and help Wreathes Across America fulfill its mission, I encourage you to send a donation to: Wreaths Across America, P.O. Box 256, Harrington, Maine 04643.

The wreaths will be at Arlington National Cemetery for approximately four weeks.  So if you haven’t already, you should consider making a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, and adding it to your family’s annual holiday traditions.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

Embassy of the Republic of Iraq

Embassy of the Republic of Iraq

Today is the anniversary of “Operation Red Dawn,” an American military action which was executed on this day in 2003. The operation, named after the 1984 fictional war movie starring Patrick Swayze, took place in the town of ad-Dawr, in northern Iraq, near Tikrit, and led to the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who had been on the run at that point for approximately nine months. In observance of the anniversary of the military operation, on this lunchtime bike ride I rode to the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq, located at 3421 Massachusetts (MAP) in the DuPont Circle neighborhood of northwest D.C.

Saddam’s downfall began on March 20th of that year, when the United States led a multi-national coalition of military forces into Iraq to topple his government, which had controlled the country for more than 20 years. Saddam went into hiding soon after the American-led invasion, speaking to his people only through an occasional audiotape.

After declaring Saddam the most important of a list of his regime’s 55 most-wanted members, the U.S. began an intense search for the former leader and his closest advisors. Five months later, on December 13, 2003, U.S. soldiers found him hiding nine miles outside his hometown of Tikrit, in a “spider hole”, which is military parlance for a camouflaged one-man hole in the ground. Saddam, the man once obsessed with hygiene, was found hiding in the dirt, unkempt, with a bushy beard and matted hair. He did not resist and was uninjured during the arrest. A soldier at the scene described him as “a man resigned to his fate.”

After an investigation and being interrogated by the FBI, Saddam was eventually tried by a Iraqi special tribunal on several criminal counts, and was found guilty of crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to death by hanging. After an unsuccessful appeal, the execution was carried out on December 30, 2006.

After getting back from my bike ride to the embassy, I took a look at the newspaper from eleven years ago today. It was in a stack of old newspapers I keep in my office. Whenever there is a significant news story that results in what’s called a “banner” headline, I buy an extra copy of that day’s newspaper and throw it on the stack that’s behind the door to my office, where I have a collection of newspapers dating all the way back to 1980 with a headline that reads, “Reagan Landslide!”

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Holy Rood Cemetery

Holy Rood Cemetery

Holy Rood Cemetery was established by Holy Trinity Catholic Church in 1832. Originally named Trinity Church Upper Grave Yard for the first three decades of its existence, the first burial there was recorded on April 22nd of the following year.  The cemetery was active from the mid-nineteenth century, when it was enlarged between 1850 and 1870, into the early twentieth century. In the early 1980s, the Holy Rood notified holders of burial rights that it would not accept more burials. But the holders sued, obtaining a consent decree in 1984 that forced it to keep the cemetery open and honor all contracts. A few burials subsequently took place there in the late 1990s, and it still has an occasional burial, making it the oldest active Catholic cemetery in D.C.

When Holy Trinity Church, which was founded by the Jesuits of then-Georgetown College, was transferred to the Archdiocese of Washington in 1942, Holy Rood remained in the care of Georgetown University. Over the years, the university has appeared at times to be a reluctant cemetery owner, skimping on maintenance and fighting with owners of burial plots. In the 1970s the university proposed that the Archdiocese take over the 7,000 graves, but the deal fell apart when the archdiocese proposed to charge the university $2 million. Then in the 1980’s, the university sought to disinter the bodies and remove the graves so that the land could be developed. This was blocked, however, by a legal action brought by the remaining holders of burial rights.

Georgetown University continues to reluctantly oversee the cemetery, which today reflects years of disuse and neglect. Many of the tombstones are toppled, damaged or overgrown, and grass and weeds grow up through large cracks in the lone asphalt walkway leading through it. The deplorable condition of the cemetery today is particularly unfortunate in light of the history contained within it.

Unlike Capitol Hill’s Historic Congressional Cemetery, there are no known famous politicians or dignitaries buried in Holy Rood Cemetery. Most of the graves hold Catholic hoteliers, butchers, laborers, maids, war veterans, mothers who died in childbirth, victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic and many others. However, it also includes the graves of as many as 1,000 Catholic free and enslaved African Americans, and may be the best-documented slave burial grounds in the greater D.C. area. Unfortunately, most are in unmarked graves or were buried with wooden markers that rotted away many years ago. Georgetown University libraries maintain the burial records, but if restoration of the cemetery does not occur soon, there may be little left to which the records can be matched.

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While on the daily bike ride I take during my lunch break at work, I was riding through DuPont Circle in northwest D.C. when I saw a commotion on the other side of the park involving a group of people who were dressed in all black.  I initially thought it might be some type of gang that was mugging someone.   As I rode nearer to see what was going on, however, the commotion did not seem to include a sense of urgency or an aura of violence.  Also, the people were not only dressed in black, but they seemed to be dressed identically.  At that point I realized I was wrong about it being a mugging, and I thought that it might be a flash mob.  I have always wanted to happen upon a flash mob, and I wondered what kind of performance might be about to take place, or what they might do.  As I got a little closer I also saw several of them holding signs, but I couldn’t yet make out what the signs read.  With so many protests happening on a daily basis in this city, I assumed that I was wrong again and that it was probably just some type of protest.  Disappointed that I was probably not going to be able to witness a flash mob after all, I continued riding toward the crowd to find out what they were protesting and to see their signs.  I then found out I was wrong yet again.  Several members of the almost all-female group held signs that read “Free Hugs,” while the others in the group were hugging passersby as they walked through the park.   So what I initially thought might be a mugging actually turned out to be a “hugging.”  So I stopped and got off my bike, and received a few hugs.  As I left and finished my bike ride before heading back to my office, I was thinking about what had just happened and realized that I can’t remember a time when I was happier to be so wrong about something.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution

On this bike ride I went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. However, I did not ride to the widely-known memorial at Arlington National Cemetery which holds the unidentified remains of soldiers from World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. I rode to the one located in a cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia, which holds the remains of an unknown soldier of the American Revolution. Unknown to most tourists and even longtime area residents, the Revolutionary soldier’s gravesite is the original Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

It is not included in Alexandria’s official walking-tour guide handed out at the city’s visitor center. Washington tourism materials don’t give it much regard, and the tomb is mentioned only briefly, if at all, in any guidebooks written about the area. Tucked away in the corner of the burial ground and backed up against a wall of an adjacent building, it can be difficult to locate even if you know where to look. I was fortunate to just accidently happen upon it when I was riding around and exploring.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution is located in a small burial ground behind the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, which is located at 323 South Fairfax Street (MAP) in the Old Town district of the city of Alexandria.  In addition to the unidentified soldier who is honored by the tomb, the burial ground, which was founded in 1775, is the final resting place of approximately 300 persons, including many other patriots of the Revolutionary War.

The remains entombed in the Alexandria memorial were unearthed during an 1821 construction project when workers dug a foundation for a Catholic chapel behind the Old Presbyterian Meeting House and found an unmarked grave with an ammunition box serving as a coffin. The uniform identified the soldier as from Revolutionary War and uniform adornments indicated he was from Kentucky. The remains were reinterred at their present location behind the meeting house on January 21, 1821, more than 100 years prior to the dedication of Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns, which took place on November 11, 1921.

The tabletop epitaph on top of the marble marker for the Tomb has faded with time, but is still legible. The inscription is remarkably similar to the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National, and reads, “Here lies a soldier of the Revolution whose identity is known but to God.” The inscription at the memorial in Arlington reads, “Here reset in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” An additional inscription on a plaque in front of the memorial, similar to that found on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington, reads, “In Memory of an Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution. Erected by the National Society Children of the American Revolution. April 10, 1929. Temporary Marker Place by American Legion Post No. 21, Alexandria Virginia February 22, 1928.”

The Old Presbyterian Meeting House, which is the caretaker for burial ground where the tomb is located reports that, on average, only handful of people per day pick up the pamphlet explaining the memorial. This does not compare with the approximately 11,000 people who enter Arlington National Cemetery each day to view the Tomb of the Unknowns. Also, there are no guards before the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier. Rather, only a small wrought-iron fence surrounds the gravesite. This stands in stark contrast to the Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknowns, who stand guard while “walking the mat” in perfectly measured steps.   However, despite the fact that the small marble Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution cannot compete in regard to size, the number of visitors, or the grandeur of the Tomb of the Unknowns or the other giant memorials, statues and monuments throughout the national capitol area, it ranks right up there with all of them in terms of history and meaning.

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The Japanese Embassy

The Japanese Embassy

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the United States’ declaration of war against the Empire of Japan, which occurred as a direct result of the previous day’s attack conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In recognition of this anniversary, on this lunchtime bike ride Julius and I rode to the Embassy of Japan, located at 2520 Massachusetts Avenue (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Embassy Row neighborhood.

Beginning at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time on December 7, 1941, 353 Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers, launched a surprise strike against the American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii, which was the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States.

The damage incurred by the United States as a result of the attack was extensive, including 2,403 Americans killed and 1,178 others who were wounded.  Additionally, all eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four being sunk.  All but one, the USS Arizona, were later raised, and six of the eight battleships were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, one minelayer, and 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed.

Described the following day by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in an address to a joint session of Congress as “a date which will live in infamy,” the result of the attack was the exact opposite of what had been intended. Instead of intimidating the United States, the attack led to President Roosevelt asking Congress the very next day to declare war on Japan. Congress approved his declaration with just one dissenting vote, leading to the United States’ entry into both the Pacific and European theaters of World War II. Three days later, Japanese allies Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, and again Congress reciprocated. More than two years after the conflict had commenced, the United States had finally joined World War II.