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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The moon landing, the assassination of JFK, the 9/11 attacks, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. They are events and days that defined recent American history like no others.

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And then, there’s “the date which will live in infamy.”

That date was seventy five years ago today, when Japanese planes started raining bombs on Pearl Harbor, as people ate breakfast.

Eighteen ships and hundreds of American aircraft were destroyed or damaged.  Twenty four hundred Americans were killed and almost thirteen hundred were wounded in what remained the deadliest attack on a U.S. territory until 9/11.

It turned out to be one of the greatest miscalculations in military history.  The Japanese objective was to neutralize America’s power in the Pacific, hoping to have free reign for its expansionist ambitions.  Instead, the attack on Pearl Harbor awoke the sleeping giant and the U.S. entered World War Two, changing history.

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“Our brave men and women – our Greatest Generation – fought all across the world, and here at home so many people, including millions of women, rolled up their sleeves to fuel our nation’s efforts by joining the workforce,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a statement. “We owe an indelible debt to that courageous generation, and I am so deeply grateful for their service and the lessons they passed onto us.”

On Tuesday, several survivors of the attack gathered in Hawaii to share their memories of that day.

“When they said abandon ship the ones that was on deck got into a boat and was taken around the stern of the Arizona onto Ford Island,” said Howard Kenton Potts.

“We got off the ship by rope, hand over hand, off the vessel” said Lauren Bruner.

“We proceeded to go hand over hand across to the vessel but , 70-80 feet. I don’t know how I made it but I’m here,” said Donald Stratton.

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On Wednesday, more than four thousand people are expected to attend a commemoration ceremony at the site of the attack. They will observe a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m. local time – the same moment Japanese planes began their assault.