contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer
December 7th marks the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack as well as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2021. It was the Japanese bombing of this Hawaiian Naval Base that led the U.S. to officially enter WWII in 1941.
80 years ago, just before 8:00 AM on Sunday, December 7th, a mass of Japanese planes began a surprise bombing raid on Pearl Harbor that would destroy or damage 20 American naval vessels and over 300 aircraft.
2,403 Americans – including Navy personnel, Marines, Army members, and civilians – lost their lives as a result of the attack. The USS Arizona was hardest hit, with nearly half the total loss of life coming from service members aboard this vessel, specifically. Today the battleship serves as the main attraction at the National Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center and Memorial.
Every year, remembrance events are held at the Memorial, culminating in a commemoration ceremony on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7th. The theme of this year’s Pearl Harbor anniversary commemoration is Valor, Sacrifice, and Peace. It will focus on heroic courage in the face of danger, the sacrifices made by members of the military both during and after the bombing, and the difficult path to peace upon which America found herself 80 years ago.
The commemoration aims to tell the story not just of the attack on Pearl Harbor but of the wide-ranging attack across the Pacific as Japanese aircraft made their way to Hawaii on that disastrous day. The goal of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day 2021 is to ensure that today’s young generations, as well as future generations, understand the legacy of those who lost their lives in the attack or subsequently gave their lives in the war. It also highlights how important winning WWII was for the entire world, and how reconciliation shaped a better future for all.
Here are just a few of the events scheduled between now and Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2021. Many will be livestreamed at www.pearlharborevents.com.
We Can Do It! Reflections on U.S. Citizens Response to Entering WWII – 2:00 PM HST, December 3rd
Two women who lived through the events discuss what it was like to support the U.S. war effort from home. They will also reflect on the importance of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day with quotes and secondhand stories depicting how U.S. citizens went above and beyond to provide for the mobilization of troops as they entered the war.
USS Nevada BB-36 Memorial Ceremony – 1:00 PM HST, December 5th
Family and friends will gather at Hospital Point to honor the legacy of the oldest battleship present when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. Although damaged in the attack, The USS Nevada was able to escape Pearl Harbor and was grounded in shallower waters at Hospital Point where it eventually sank.
USS Utah Sunset Memorial Ceremony – 5:00 PM HST, December 6th
This ceremony honors the loss of the USS Utah, and 58 crewmen who went down with it, after being struck by a torpedo during the attack.
Pearl Harbor 80th Remembrance Ceremony – 7:40 AM HST, December 7th
Hosted by the National Park Service, the main ceremony will focus on the sacrifices of those who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor and pay tribute to those who fought to secure victory during WWII. In addition to remarks by the superintendent of the Pearl Harbor Memorial and a keynote speech from the Secretary of the Navy, the event will feature sounds of the Pacific Fleet Band, a wreath laying presentation, and a flyover.
USS Oklahoma: Reinternment of the Unknowns – 11:00 AM HST, December 7th
The USS Oklahoma capsized during the attack, causing 429 American casualties. The crew of the Oklahoma will be honored during this ceremony.
On top of the events leading up to Pearl Harbor Day, 2021, the Navy and National Park Service both have events planned afterward. On December 8th the Navy will commission the USS Daniel Inouye, a ship named after late Medal of Honor recipient and Hawaii Senator, in Pearl Harbor. And on December 9th, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial will conduct the first ever virtual interactive live dive of the USS Utah, which was the only ship left where she capsized.
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