AUGUSTA — Gov. John E. Baldacci has directed that the United States and Maine flags be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, Dec. 7 in respect for victims of Pearl Harbor.

This year marks the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day was established to honor those who died in the attack and those who fought in World War II to protect freedom.

On Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, the American Army and Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The attack came as a surprise to the American Army and Navy and lead to great losses of life and equipment. More than 2,000 American citizens were killed and more than 1,000 were injured. The Americans also lost a large proportion of their battle ships and nearly 200 aircraft that were stationed in the Pacific region. More than 60 Japanese servicemen were killed, injured or captured. The Japanese Navy also lost five midget submarines and 29 aircraft. The Japanese military had hoped that the attack on Pearl Harbor would prevent the United States from increasing its influence in the Pacific. However, the events in Pearl Harbor actually led to the escalation of World War II. The day after the attack, the U.S. declared war on Japan and so entered World War II.

President Franklin Roosevelt in a speech to Congress stated that the bombing of Pearl Harbor was “a date which will live in infamy.” Shortly afterwards, Germany also declared war on the U.S. In the months that followed the attack, the slogan “Remember Pearl Harbor” swept the U.S. and radio stations repeatedly played a song of the same name.

In 1991, which marked the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Congress established the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal. This is also known as the Pearl Harbor Survivor’s Medal and can be awarded to any veteran of the U.S. military who were present in or around Pearl Harbor during the attack by the Japanese military. The medal can be awarded to civilians, who were killed or injured in the attack.

Historical information from timeanddate.com.