On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise air attack on the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing more than 2,400 Americans, sinking or damaging more than a dozen warships, and destroying more than 180 aircraft. The next day, in a speech memorializing the incident as “a date which will live in infamy,” U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a formal declaration of war. Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, responded days later by declaring war on the United States. It was America’s official entry into World War II.
The scope and severity of the event and its consequences made Pearl Harbor a ripe target for rumors, then and now.