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

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

This year, the 81st anniversary of the bombing on Pearl Harbor will be observed on Thursday, December 7, 2023.

Officially known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, it honors those who lost their lives during the attack by the Japanese on the US naval base in Hawaii in 1941.

The surprise attack effectively ushered the US into World War II, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed it a "date that will live in infamy" issuing a nationwide call to arms.

Just up ahead, check more information along with how the anniversary is celebrated, a history of the attack in photos and video, along with a travel guide to visiting the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center any time of the year.

Pearl Harbor anniversary broadcasts

Check local listings for tributes to the anniversary planned in the lead up to December 7th, with events of the day live-streamed at the official Pearl Harbor National Memorial site, on their official Facebook page, and at

Pearl Harbor - what happened December 7, 1941

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 air force had 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 fatalities 2,403 people.

Also lost forever was the American sense of 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.

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

USS Arizona

Amid the destruction on December 7, 1941, five battleships were seriously damaged or sank during the attack.

The worst of it 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 board.

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 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 ultimately surrender 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 on Ford Island where the Japanese formally surrendered to the US on September 2, 1945.

A view of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center from the USS Missouri, where the Japenese
formally surrendered to the United States on September 2, 1945, ending World War II.

Visiting Pearl Harbor

By Car from Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu
The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is approximately a 45-minute drive from Honolulu. Take Ala Moana Blvd./Nimitz Highway or H-1 West and turn off at exit 15A, marked "Arizona Mem./Stadium".

Pro tip: Nearing the vistor center, avoid the Ford Island bridge, which is only accessible by military personnel and government employees. If you accidentally turn onto the bridge without proper ID, you will be directed to turn around. Once you turn around, take a right onto Kamehameha Highway. The next right turn on Arizona Memorial Place will lead you to the visitor center. Upon arrival, you can visit Ford Island on specially marked buses to visit the USS Missouri.

By Taxi
Leave it a knowledgeable Honolulu driver to get you there, but NOTE: a taxi ride will cost anywhere from $45 to $70 depending on your departure destination in Honolulu.

By Bus
Honolulu public transit buses are by far the easiest and cheapest option (fare: $2.50). Ask at your hotel where you can catch the #20 or #42 bus which will take you to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

also see -> Top Hawaii Tourist Attractions

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, along with travel info on visting the Peark Harbor memorial:

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

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

Planning Your Visit to Pearl Harbor - Here'a an excellent guide to the visitor center from the National Park Service with info on how to get there, what to see and do, visiting hours and how to purchase tickets, and a complete events calendar on upcoming events and programs.

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