National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is observed annually on December 7, commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II.
The Japanese attack on the United States naval base in Oahu, Hawaii at Pearl Harbor was one of the greatest surprise attacks in military history. The attack was a result of the culmination of deteriorating relations between the United States and Japan. In less than two hours, nearly the entire U.S. Pacific fleet was destroyed from the Japanese attack, leaving more than 3,500 soldiers wounded or killed. President Franklin Roosevelt infamously called the event, “a date which will live in infamy.”
Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States remained largely un-involved with the happenings of World War II; there was a large divide of those supporting versus opposed to the war. However, the attack had far-reaching political effects in the United States, changing the minds of many opposed to the war, and resulted in the United States propelled into the war.
The USS Arizona was one of several ships destroyed on the attack at Pearl Harbor. The ship was hit by four torpedoes, causing the ship to explode – and is where nearly half of the casualties at Pearl Harbor occurred. The USS Arizona is the final resting place for the 1,177 service men and women aboard the ship when it sank. While the U.S. Navy had considered raising the ship to recover the deceased, they decided to maintain the custom of sailing men: those who die at sea, are buried at sea. Though they were gone, they would not be forgotten.
The USS Arizona Memorial came about from the desire to have a dedicated memorial to honor those who lost their lives in the attack at Pearl Harbor. In 1949, the territory of Hawaii established the Pacific War Memorial Commission, in which the first steps were taken to create a dedicated memorial for Pearl Harbor.
Commander in Chief, Pacific, Admiral Arthur Radford, ordered a flagpole be erected over the sunken USS Arizona battleship in 1950, signifying the initial recognition of some sort of memorial for Pearl Harbor. An American flag continues to fly from a flagpole attached to the sunken ship’s mainmast to this day.
However, it wasn’t until 1958 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the creation of the memorial. The memorial’s construction was completed in 1961, with a dedication in 1962. The memorial structure spans the middle portion of the sunken battleship with three sections, one of which includes the shrine room where the names of those killed on the USS Arizona are engraved on the wall.
Additionally, when survives pass away today they have the option to be laid to rest with their fallen comrades. Read more about Eternal Peace at the USS Arizona.
Ceremonies around the country and moments of silence are observed on December 7. Please take a moment this Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day to reflect on the “day that will live in infamy.” And don’t forget to fly your flag at half-staff on December 7th to remember all the lives lost at sea.