The most vivid historical memory attached to today’s calendar date actually happened about 24 hours later.

A joint session of Congress and 81 percent of radio listeners in the United States heard President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his voice bristling with anger, say, “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.”

History books and the public consciousness rarely go beyond those 31 compelling words. There were only 501 total words in FDR’s speech that took just 3 minutes to deliver.

Politicians of that era weren’t any more concise or any less prone to bloviating than today’s variety, but there wasn’t much more to be said by FDR or by congressmen and senators in the debate that followed.

Japan had attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing 2,403 service members and civilians, injuring 1,178 others and damaging or destroying scores of aircraft, battleships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines.

That could not stand. Within an hour of FDR’s call to arms, Congress had voted to declare war on Japan. Three days later, Germany declared war on the U.S., this country quickly reciprocated and we were an active participant in World War II.

We could fill not just this space but this entire page with commentary on what followed before those two enemies were finally defeated nearly four years later. That’s not our place; there are innumerable books and reference sources that cover such things.

We could enter the debate on “who did the heaviest lifting” in the winning of the war. This isn’t the place, however, plus there was a reason the good guys were called “allies.” To us that connotes each participant doing its part toward a common goal, sans chest beating, flag waving and “look at me, I deserve more credit” protestations.

We’ll also avoid the debate on what happened afterward, when allies in a hot war became combatants in the Cold War. That’s a distraction from this particular discussion.

We’ll simply commemorate the date. These events may have occurred 77 years ago, and the number of living World War II veterans declines daily. Still, we get calls annually to make sure we haven’t forgotten or overlooked Dec. 7.

We’ll honor the dead. (For the first time, no survivors of the USS Arizona, which burned and sank following the attack, as 1,177 of its 1,512 crew members died, are able to attend the annual remembrance ceremonies in Hawaii. There are only five left.)

We’ll acknowledge how what happened at Pearl Harbor and afterward, for a time, unified this country across realms — political, industrial, even entertainment — in a way not seen before or since.

It’s hard not to miss that in a way, given the present polarized atmosphere in the U.S. and especially after a week of remembrances of former President George H.W. Bush as an example of a bygone era.

We’ve questioned whether it’s possible in the 21st century to unite this country toward a common goal. We’d love to be reassured along those lines. We hope it doesn’t require a war for that to happen.