Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
December 7, 1941 marks the day that the Empire of Japan attacked the U.S. Army and Navy in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack at the base also officially marked U.S. involvement in World War II. Today, December 7th is known as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, as Americans remember the thousands of soldiers killed and injured during that day.
Until September 11, 2001, the events at Pearl Harbor were the deadliest attack on American soil. At least 2,400 people lost their lives, and over 1,000 were wounded. While most of the deaths and injuries were related to the sinking of naval ships, other soldiers lost their lives in airplanes. On top of that, civilians in the surrounding area were injured from the morning’s surprise attacks.
December 7th was immediately recognized as Pearl Harbor day, and it was one day that would not easily be forgotten. However, it wasn’t officially a holiday until Congress dubbed December 7th as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in 1994. Just three years before, on the 50th anniversary of the attacks, Congress also created commemorative medals for all those who were at Pearl Harbor that day. Civilians were also included as recipients of the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal.
After the end of World War II, it took time to recover and reflect from all the aftermath. In 1962, the USS Arizona memorial was built in Pearl Harbor right over the sunken ship. The memorial holds the names of all those who lost their lives that day. It is one of the most visited places in Hawaii today, and you can get there from the Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center on a guided tour boat. The ship went down with many soldiers trapped inside—they were never recovered. Small amounts of oil still leak out from the ship at the sea floor.
While the Arizona is the most popular Pearl Harbor memorial to visit, you can also see the wreckage and memorial of the USS Utah. Also located within Pearl Harbor, it is just north of Ford Island. You can get to the memorial by boat, and you can also see parts of the wreckage from shore.
A visit to Hawaii isn’t the only way you can observe Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. While this isn’t declared a federal holiday, Pearl Harbor Day is widely celebrated across the country every year. Parades, wreath ceremonies and public events are just some of the few ways in which veterans and civilians come together to remember all who lost their lives on that tragic day. It is common for people to lower their U.S. flags to half-staff for the full day.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that the day was one “which will live in infamy.” There was a great deal of truth and wisdom in those words, as Americans still observe Pearl Harbor Day now more than 70 years later. While the events may not be as fresh as the attacks on 9/11, it is still a significant part of American history that is not likely to ever be forgotten. The date particularly hits home to the soldiers who survived that day, as well as the family and friends of all involved in the tragedy.
2012 marks the 71st anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is hosting special tours and commemorative events during the entire first week of December, with the official anniversary event on the 7th. There are other events held across the country as well, so you won’t have to look far in order to participate in this holiday of reflection.
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