National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is on December 7th and was created to honor the men and women who lost their lives on the same day in 1941 during the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Each year, veterans, families, and American citizens gather to commemorate the 2,403 service members who were killed in the Japanese attack. Let's take a look back and learn a little more about why this day is so important.
Leading up to December 7
The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service conducted a surprise strike that cost thousands of Americans their lives. Because most of the U.S. battleships in the Pacific at the time were located in the same Pearl Harbor port, they were a perfect target for the Japanese.
That fateful Sunday morning would "live in infamy" as stated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The radar station operators spotted a few unidentified planes that turned out to be the Japanese bombers.
According to the Navy ship deck log's running record, the attacks began around 7:55 AM and the main engines on the USS Arizona and the USS Oklahoma needed emergency repairs because they were among the first to be hit. From there, the USS Maryland, the USS California, the USS Solace and many other ships which were hit had logs that contributed to our current knowledge of the tragic day. With the chaos the day brought, the sequence of events is not perfectly known.
Because the attack was a surprise, there was an element of confusion at play that contributed to the response. The attack ended up lasting two hours and much of the U.S. Pacific Fleet was destroyed. This included 8 battleships, 3 cruisers, and 188 airplanes that were ruined and many lives lost. During the attack, despite the chaos and confusion, the U.S. military fought with extreme bravery to save their fellow men and salvage the damaged ships. Following the Japanese surprise, the United States declared war on Japan and was fully engaged in World War ll.
According to the Navy's military history website, fifteen U.S. Navy veterans were awarded the Medal of Honor, ten of whom sacrificed their lives in the Pearl Harbor attacks.
A day in remembrance
On August 23, 1994, congress created Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and designated December 7th of every year as a day to honor the tragic losses of the attack in Oahu, Hawaii. Nationally sanctioned events occur every year in remembrance. The final event is a commemoration ceremony held at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the terrible and tragic attack on Pearl Harbor. The commemoration ceremony will be held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. This year's theme is Valor, Sacrifice, and Peace and will work to educate future generations not only about the attack but about the subsequent war. Aside from the main ceremony, there are different events leading up to December 7th that include ceremonies on the USS Nevada, USS Utah, and USS Oklahoma, which are open to the public.
This year, take the time to consider the implications of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the over 2,000 lives lost that day or even attend the virtual panels that are available.