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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-six years ago today, December 7th, when Japanese planes started raining bombs on Pearl Harbor as people ate breakfast.

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Eighteen ships and hundreds of American aircraft were destroyed or damaged.  Twenty-four hundred Americans were killed and almost twelve 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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On Thursday, thousands will 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.