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Remembering Pearl Harbor- Looking back 75 years later

     The American flag at Eastern University is flown at half-staff today in remembrance of the surprise attack that brought America into World War II: 75 years ago the naval base of Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii was attacked by Japanese fighter planes in the midst of World War II. In this attack on Dec. 7, 1941, more than 2,400 Americans lost their lives, a huge majority of whom were Navy sailors, Army soldiers and Marines. The following day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation and remarked that Dec. 7 was “a date which will live in infamy.” In this famous speech, President Roosevelt also requested that the U.S. declare war on Japan. With votes of 82-0 in the Senate and 388-1 in the House, the U.S. officially declared war on Japan and entered World War II.

     Americans today solemnly and vividly remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the anniversary of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 does not resonate as deeply with generations of Americans who did not live through this attack. Sixty thousand people survived the attack at Pearl Harbor, but as of last year only 2,000 to 2,500 of these individuals were still thought to be alive. With each passing year, fewer and fewer Pearl Harbor survivors remain to pass on their legacies. For many Americans today, the infamous attack may feel so distant that it has little impact on their lives. However, to pay tribute to Pearl Harbor and to honor the thousands of Americans who lost their lives, many commemorative events will be held on this three-quarter century anniversary.

     Beginning Thursday, Dec. 1 and running through Sunday, Dec. 11, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Aiea, Hawaii will host a variety of dedicatory events, including performances by the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific, the 25th Infantry Division Band, The Swingin’ Blue Stars, the Royal Hawaiian Band, the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Band and a 75th-Anniversary Pearl Harbor Mass Band Performance. Throughout the week, there will also be several film showings, including “Twelve O’Clock High,” “From Here to Eternity,” “Run Silent, Run Deep” and the premiere of the documentary “Remember Pearl Harbor.”

     In Washington, D.C., there will be a Pearl Harbor 75th-Anniversary Commemoration held at the National World War II Memorial. Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans will participate in a wreath ceremony at the Freedom Wall. The event’s keynote speaker will be Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

     The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was significant to American history as it motivated the United States to declare war on Japan and enter into World War II. Pearl Harbor was also the first attack on American soil by a foreign country in modern times. This attack sent a scare throughout the United States and encouraged fellow Americans to band together. Since the attack was on American soil, those who served in World War II felt a sense of personal responsibility to protect our great nation. On this 75th anniversary, pay tribute to our fallen sailors, soldiers, Marines and civilians by learning more about Pearl Harbor and its place in our nation’s history.

     Sources: pearlharbor75thanniversary.com, wwiimemorialfriends.org

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