Each year on December 7, Pearl Harbor survivors, veterans and visitors from all over the world come together to honor and remember the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. An additional 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships – the USS Arizona and the USS Utah – and destroyed 188 aircraft.
On Aug. 23, 1994, the United States Congress designated Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Every year, remembrance events are held at World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, culminating in a commemoration ceremony on Dec. 7.
This information comes from the National Park Service’s website on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. On Jan. 7, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this in his State of the Union address:
“First in the importance in the American scene has been the inspiring proof of the great qualities of our fighting men. They have demonstrated these qualities in adversity as well as in victory. As long as our flag flies over this Capitol, Americans will honor the soldiers, sailors and Marines who fought our first battles of this war against overwhelming odds the heroes – living and dead, of Wake and Bataan and Guadalcanal, of the Java Sea and Midway and the North Atlantic convoys. Their unconquerable spirit will live forever.
“A tremendous, costly, long-enduring task in peace as well as in war is still ahead of us. But, as we face that continuing task, we may know that the state of this Nation is good — the heart of this Nation is sound — the spirit of this Nation is strong — the faith of this Nation is eternal.”
Just before December 7, 1941, Americans were looking forward to Christmas and may have largely ignored the war in the Pacific and in Europe. That was 77 years ago, but it changed history. The community we live in today would be different if the attack on Pearl Harbor had never happened. That is why it is worthwhile to take note of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.