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MAIN Arrow to Holidays Holidays & Observances Arrow to Pearl Harbor Day Pearl Harbor Day

2016 marks the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor with events and ceremonies in honor of the occasion.

uss arizona memorial at pearl harbor
The USS Arizona is the final resting place of
1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on
board during the Japanese surprise attack

Why We Commemorate Pearl Harbor Day

On the early Sunday morning of December 7, 1941 sudden news reports of an attack by a foreign power stunned Americans much as it did on 9/11.

One of the most violent attacks ever against U.S. forces, the Japanese slipped in quietly over Oahu precisely at 7:55 AM to wreak havoc on the air and navy fleet stationed on the Hawaiian island.

The raid -- which came with no declaration of war -- destroyed four battleships and damaged four more in just two hours. Among the American armed forces, there were a total of 2,335 killed, including 2,008 navy personnel, 109 marines, and 218 army. 68 civilians also lost their lives in the attack making the total 2403 people dead.

Also lost was American innocence, and the belief that the US was somehow protected from the battles already raging in Europe.

On December 7, 1941 the US was suddenly and without warming thrust into World War II.

Pearl Harbor 75th anniversary

pearl harbor attack newspaper report

75th anniversary events on December 7th
include a mass band performance on
board the Battleship Missouri featuring
more than 1,000 student musicians. .

This year, the attack on Pearl Harbor will be commemorated with band performances, parades, prayer services, and speeches by prominent military and political figures from Thursday, December 1st to Sunday, December 11.

This year, for the first time ever, Japanese Prime Minister

The official Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 will include several key events open to the public. These include the official Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Commemoration (7:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.) which moves from its usual location at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center to Kilo Pier (to help accommodate the almost 6,000 people who are expected to attend.)

For guests not able to attend the ceremony at Kilo Pier, a live stream of the ceremony will be available for viewing in the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center theaters and online.

Also watch for a special PBS presentation "Pearl Harbor - Into the Arizona" in honor of the 75th anniversary.

Other events planned for the big day include the ringing of the Freedom Bell at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and a mass band performance at the Battleship Missouri (noon to 1 p.m.) featuring more than 1,000 student musicians. In late afternoon, the day concludes with the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade (4;30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) marching down Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.

The theme of this year's historic 75th anniversary commemoration is "Pathway to Reconciliation: From Engagement to Peace," focusing on the rebuilding and solidifying the friendship between the U.S. and Japan.

With that in mind, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will become the first sitting Japanese leader to visit Pearl Harbor on a symbolic visit to the site of the Japanese attack 75 years ago. Abe will meet with US President Barack Obama when he travels to the naval base on a trip to Hawaii on December 26th.

For more information, click over to


USS Arizona

Amid the destruction on December 7, 1941, five battleships were seriously damaged or sunk and would require extensive repairs to get them into action again.

The worst befell the U.S.S. Arizona when a 1760-pound bomb struck its gunpowder store resulting in a massive explosion. Today, the U.S.S. Arizona lies in its watery grave at the bottom of the harbor, with a memorial built directly over it honoring the 1,177 lives that were lost on the ship that fateful day.

uss arizona burns at Pearl Harbor
Following a direct hit from Japanese war planes, the USS Arizona burns and sinks in Pearl Harbor.

pearl harbor attack newspaper report
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin
announces the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

"...a date which will live in infamy"

Shortly following the Pearl Harbor attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to Congress and the nation in a radio address now considered one of the most famous American political speeches of the 20th century.

Calling December 7th "a date which will live in infamy." FDR rallied Americans nationwide and, amid thundering applause he stated that, since the moment of the attack, "a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."

Four long years later, hundreds of thousands of lives continued to be lost in the Pacific even as war in Europe was declared over. Horrific scenes of carnage were only equaled by the dropping of two atomic bombs by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which finally brought Japan to its knees and World War II to an end.

Remembering Pearl Harbor today

For most Americans today, the USS Arizona memorial remains the focal point for commemorating the attack at Pearl Harbor along with tours of the USS Missouri, upon which the Japanese formally surrendered to the US on September 2, 1945.

Elsewhere on the mainland US, veteran's groups and American Legion outposts remember the day by honoring surviving soldiers that fought at Pearl Harbor and in the Pacific, along with the placing of memorial wreaths at the graves of the fallen.

More about Pearl Harbor Day around the Web:

Around the Web, learn more about Pearl Harbor day at top resources detailing the attack and what it meant for all Americans, with related eye-witness accounts and photos, lesson plans and timelines ...

Attack on Pearl Harbor - Wikipedia - Extensive historical background & photos tell the story including its aftermath with related resources and references, multimedia sound files featuring the FDR's "a date which will live in infamy" speech.

The Pearl Harbor Day Page - Quick, succinct overview of the circumstances leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack, the galvanizing effects on the U.S. war effort, and the country's ultimate victory over Japan in World War II.

Pearl - Pearl Harbor history & information told in video, audio and text including major speeches, eyewitness accounts, casualty lists, photos.

also see -> Top Hawaii Tourist Attractions

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