Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
On December 7th, Americans celebrate Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day to commemorate the Battle of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and to remember those who lost their lives during the conflict. Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7th, 1941. This is often viewed as the beginning of the United States’ involvement in World War II as the next day, the US declared war on Japan. A main tradition is to fly the American flag at half-staff until the sun goes down.
Along with flying the flag, memorial services and educational events are held. Many organizations connected to the attack on Pearl Harbor and its victims put on these events, which may feature wreath-laying, luncheons and dinners, speeches, recollections by survivors, and educational events that may expand into World War II history. It is not considered a public holiday.
The most prominent memorials are located at the sites of sunken ships in Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona features a marble structure over the site of the battleship’s wreckage. Another memorial site honors the crew and sinking of the USS Utah on the shore of Ford Island.
History of the Battle of Pearl Harbor
The attack took place on December 7th, 1941, a Sunday morning. The United States’ Navy and Army base in Pearl Harbor suffered an attack by the Japanese. The American base was attacked by 353 Japanese planes in two separate waves. The surprise of the American Forces led to inadequate preparation and heavy losses of both military personnel and civilians, with more than 2000 killed and more than 1000 injured. A large number of battleships and planes were also lost. One the Japanese side, 60 military personnel were killed or captured, five submarines were lost along with almost 30 planes.
The intent of the Japanese was to discourage American forces from expanded their naval influence in the Pacific Ocean area, as Japan was allied with Germany during World War II. However, this had the opposite effect, encouraging the United States to escalate their involvement, officially entering the war by declaring war on Japan. Germany then declared war on the US.
Congress established the holiday on August 23, 1994.