Observing National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

By Denise Kovalevich, Office of Enterprise ManagementDecember 5, 2023

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

This year, the 82nd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor will be observed on 7 December. Officially known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Pearl Harbor survivors, veterans, and visitors from all over the world will come together to honor the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. They will also remember the additional 1,178 people who were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships (the USS Arizona and the USS Utah) and destroyed 188 aircraft. This assault drew the United States into World War II with the United States declaring war on Japan the following day on 8 December 1941.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day not only serves as a day to honor the individuals who lost their lives in the attack and to pay tribute to the veterans and survivors but it is also an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the attack and the historical significance of the United States' entry into World War II. As one of the most significant events in U.S. history, on 23 August 1994, the United States Congress officially designated 7 December as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Every year, remembrance events are held at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, culminating in a commemoration ceremony on 7 December.

If you aren’t able to make it to Hawaii for the ceremony at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, here are some other ways you and your family can observe National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in your community.

Ways to Observe National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
  • Fly the American flag at half-staff until sunset.
  • Watch child-friendly documentaries and read stories that include survivor and eyewitness accounts. There are many online resources, including the following:

o  PBS – Videos, discussion ideas, and more.

o  Military.com – Article “Pearl Harbor: Day of Infamy”

o  National WW2 Museum – Articles, videos, interviews, and more.

o  NPS – Article “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day”

  • Observe a moment of silence. The attack on Pearl Harbor commenced at 7:55 AM local time. Whatever your time zone, take a moment to silently reflect upon the day’s events, what they meant to the people of Oahu, and how they changed the course of history.
  • Volunteer at a veteran’s organization. Show your respect for all veterans on this special day by dedicating some of your time to those who have sacrificed their lives for us.
 Five Facts About the Attack on Pearl Harbor:
  •  The attack lasted just under two hours.
  • Tensions had been rising for many years between the two nations, so a Japanese attack was expected on the United States, but not at Pearl Harbor.
  • To make the assault a success, the Japanese struck the American naval base on a Sunday morning, as they believed the U.S. soldiers would be more relaxed and less alert to their duties.
  • Doris Miller was a mess attendant onboard the USS West Virginia on the day of the strike. In the early morning, when the first bombs blasted the ship at Pearl Harbor, Miller helped move the wounded Captain Bennion. Miller became the first Black man to be awarded the Navy Cross in 1942. You can read more about his here: https://dorismillermemorial.org/doris-story/
  • The attack led to the United States joining World War II.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who defended our nation during World War II. Many survivors of the attack have since passed away, but their legacy lives on. As we remember Pearl Harbor, it is crucial to reflect on how far we've come as a nation and the values that bind us together. On the 82nd anniversary of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, let us join forces to honor the heroes of 7 December 1941. As we remember the past, let us also look to the future with hope and determination for a more peaceful tomorrow.