Pearl Harbor Day is December 7th
Pearl Harbor Day takes place each year on December 7th and honors those who were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. While many people have marked the occasion over the years, it was not until 1994 that US Congress formally recognized this day as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
During the attack, which took place on a Sunday at the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Japanese aircraft and submarines attacked the US fleet. More than 2,400 US military personnel and civilians died in the attack and almost 1,200 others were injured. Four navy battleships were sunk and another four were damaged; in addition, three cruisers, three destroyers and one minelayer were damaged or sunk. The US also saw the destruction of 188 aircraft, with a further 159 damaged. The attack led to the US declaring war on Japan and entering the Second World War.
While events to remember those who were lost is held every year, it is not an official public holiday. Schools, businesses and government offices remain open, although there may be special events and services held to remember those who were killed or injured. A number of memorials have been built to remember this day; if you are in the vicinity, you can pay a visit.
The USS Arizona memorial is in Pearl Harbor itself. This marble structure is built over the sunken wreck of the USS Arizona and has been in place since 1962. There is also a memorial to USS Utah, which can be found on Ford Island close to the wreck of the ship. USS Utah is now officially a national historic landmark and has been since 1989. Both memorials see hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Before the 50th anniversary of the attack, US Congress awarded the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal to those who were in the armed forces at the time and were in Hawaii on December 7th 1941. This medal was also given to servicemen who were killed or injured and to civilians who were killed or injured; however, there was a time limit for claiming this medal and it is no longer available.
You may not be able to get to one of the official memorials but you can still do something to remember those who were killed and injured. The US flag is flown at half-mast on government buildings and the White House, and many civilians choose to fly the flag at their homes. There are also a number of different services that take place around the country, particularly at the official memorials in Hawaii.
Near your home there may be wreath-laying ceremonies organized by various associations, speeches given by those who have a connection with what happened that day, and special lunches. In schools it is traditional for the students to take part in activities that teach them about the reality of this day and to focus a little on the history of WW2.
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