Pearl Harbor:  “A date which will live in infamy”

Daily News Article   —   Posted on December 4, 2020

(from Local CBS4 Indianapolis) — Navy sailor Mickey Ganitch was getting ready to play in a Pearl Harbor football game as the day dawned on Dec. 7, 1941. The pigskin showdown never happened. Instead, Mr. Ganitch spent the morning, still wearing his football padding and brown team shirt, scanning the sky for threats as Japanese planes rained bombs on the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Seventy-nine years later, the health risks of the coronavirus pandemic are preventing Mr. Ganitch and other Pearl Harbor survivors from attending an annual ceremony remembering those killed in the attack. The 101-year-old has attended most years since the mid-2000s, but will have to observe the moment from California this year.

The National Park Service and the Navy, who jointly host the annual event, have also closed the ceremony to the public to limit the size of the gathering. The event with will be livestreamed online instead.

Nearly eight decades ago, Ganitch’s USS Pennsylvania football team was scheduled to face off against the USS Arizona. As usual, they donned their uniforms on board their ship because there wasn’t anywhere to change clothes near the field.

As the aerial assault began at 7:55 a.m., Ganitch scrambled from the ship’s living compartment to his battle station about 70 feet above the main deck. His job was to serve as a lookout and report “anything that was suspicious.”

He saw a plane coming over the top of a nearby building. His ship’s gunners trained their guns on the aircraft and shot it down.

The Pennsylvania was in dry dock at the time, which protected it from the torpedoes that pummeled so many other vessels that day. It was one of the first to return fire on the attacking planes. Even so, the Pennsylvania lost 31 men. Ganitch said a 500-pound bomb missed him by just 45 feet.

He didn’t have time to think and did what he had to do.

“You realize that we’re in the war itself and that things had changed,” he said.

The USS Arizona suffered a much worse fate, losing 1,177 Marines and sailors as it quickly sank after being pierced by two bombs. More than 900 men remain entombed on the ship where it rests on the seafloor in the harbor. Altogether, more than 2,300 U.S. troops died in the attack.

It’s because of them that Mr. Ganitch feels obliged to return to Pearl Harbor for an annual remembrance ceremony on Dec. 7.

“We had a lot of people die that particular day. A lot of the people, a lot of them that I knew died that day. So I figure that by being there, we’re honoring them. They’re the heroes,” Mr. Ganitch said.

Ganitch served the remainder of the war on the Pennsylvania, participating in the U.S. recapture of Attu and Kiska in Alaska. The battleship bombarded Japanese positions to help with the amphibious assaults of Pacific islands like Kwajelin, Saipan and Guam.

Ganitch remained in the Navy for more than 20 years. Afterward, he briefly worked in a bowling alley before becoming the shop foreman at a fish net manufacturing plant.

Along the way, he had four children, 13 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 9 great-great grandchildren. He and his wife, who is now 90, have been married 57 years.

From Local CBS4 Indianapolis .com. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from CBS4.


THE JAPANESE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including 8 battleships.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the morning of December 7, 1941.

*About the Battleships:

In a speech Dec. 8, 1941 asking Congress to declare war on Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Rooselvelt said in part:

“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 7th, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

-Read FDR’s speech to Congress at, OR
-Listen to FDR’s speech to Congress at

Watch President Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941 the day after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, in which he asks Congress to declar war on Japan: