Remember Pearl Harbor Day

December 7, 2006 at 1:34 pm | Posted in getting involved | 2 Comments

I, like many my age, learned about Pearl Harbor in school. I did not, however, understand the real importance until I went to O’ahu. Mr. Karma and I had run off and eloped. We got married on the island, and took in some sites. I knew I wanted to go to the memorial, but I was not prepared for the profound impact it had on me. I still get a lump in my throat when I think back to the site and remember Pearl Harbor.The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 am on December 7, 1941. Japanese naval forces compiled for the raid included 4 heavy aircraft carriers, 2 heavy cruisers, 35 submarines, 2 light cruisers, 9 oilers, 2 battleships and 11 destroyers.

The attacking forces came in two waves, the first consisting of 183 aircraft which included 40 torpedo planes, 49 level bombers, 51 dive bombers and 43 fighters. The second wave included 170 planes, 54 of them level bombers, 80 dive-bombers and 36 fighters. Over 350 Japanese planes were involved in overall attack, which surprised the United States. Simultaneously, nearby Hickam Field was also the victim of the surprise attack by the Japanese. 18 Army Aircorps aircraft including bombers and fighters and attack bombers were destroyed or damaged on the ground. A few U.S. fighters struggled into the air against the invaders and gave a good account of themselves.

A total of twenty-nine Japanese aircraft were shot down by ground fire and U.S pilots from various military installations on O’ahu.

At the end of the day, over 2,000 men lost their lives.

U.S. Personnel Casualties

Service Killed Wounded TotalNavy 2008 710 2718

Army 218 364 582

Marines 109 69 178

Civilians 68 35 103

The day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, President Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress and the nation listened via radio. Congress responded with a unanimous vote in support of the war. Later that day, President Roosevelt signed a Declaration of War.

The USS Arizona Visitor Center is located on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base adjacent to the sunken remains of the USS Arizona. The center is operated and maintained by the National Park Service in a use agreement with the U.S. Navy.

The center and USS Arizona Memorial are free of charge to the public and there are no reservations. Everyone visiting the USS Arizona is encouraged to view a 20 minute film documenting the attack on Pearl Harbor. The film is presented by the Park Service, prior to the short U.S. Navy shuttle boat trip to the memorial itself. The film creates an incredible sense of awe at the shear size of the attacks. The tone in the room drops to a somber level. You feel like you are at a memorial service.

The final resting place for 1,102 (75 were recovered) crewmen of the U.S.S. Arizona who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. They are still entombed within the Arizona herself. The sunken battleship is commemorated by a 184 foot-long memorial structure that spans its mid-portion. No part of the edifice touches the ship.

There are three sections in the memorial: The entry and assembly room, the middle room, used for observations of the sunken ship and for ceremonies. Many visitors drop flower leis into the water from this section, honoring the dead. We too did this. It just seemed right at the time. The idea of the soldiers still in their ship reminds of the sacrifices of our soldiers. The third section is the shrine room. The room contains the names of all those killed on the Arizona and their names are engraved on a marble wall. Upon entering the shrine room, the reverence and honor it was intended to inspire is immediately noticeable. All persons are keenly aware that this is hallowed ground. The silence is almost overwhelming. Many people were crying. Myself included.

So, today, take a moment and reflect on the lives of all those affected, including the survivors and their families. Take some time to remember what happened and why. Take some time to make the world a better place so that this never happens again.

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  1. It is a day filled with history, sacrifice, loss and honor. You are right, it should never happen again, anywhere.

    PS: I linked you to my favorites.

  2. Wow..thank you. This is a wonderful and heartbreaking post.

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