The USS Arizona Memorial, in the foreground, with the USS Missouri in the background at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Photo: Pearl Harbor 75th Commemoration Committee
By Connie K. Ho, Contributor
Dec. 7, 1941, is a date that will “live in infamy.” Much of the world was at war and, that morning, Japanese warplanes assaulted the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” In December, it will have been 75 years since that fateful attack.
For the past few months, a committee of military, government and business leaders has been working tirelessly to put together a commemoration like no other.
The commemoration is centered on Dec. 7, which is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
“The intent behind all the events is to try to find a way . . . to bridge generations and set the groundwork for what is ahead beyond Dec. 7, 2016, because all of this will continue on even though this most likely may be the last major celebration where any of the survivors from the attack on Oahu are with us, and we know that this one is extra special for lots of reasons,” said Anthony Crutchfield, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, in a press conference.
Organizers have honed in on the theme “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future.” The 11 days of events and ceremonies will pay tribute to survivors, those who lost their lives and the thousands who fought in World War II. Each night will be designated for a different branch of the U.S. Armed Services, with the first night honoring the Army and the last night honoring the Marines. Visitors can also experience events and memorials dedicated to the USS Utah, USS Oklahoma and the USS Arizona.
“As we look to the future, we each have an opportunity and a personal responsibility to invest in and commit to inspiring the leaders of tomorrow, using history to help empower choices that negate fateful outcomes,” said Adm. Thomas Fargo in a statement.
Attendees can enjoy a host of activities such as live music, movie nights, a documentary film premiere and a block party. On Dec. 8, 9 and 10, country music superstars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will perform in benefit concerts. On Dec. 11, the Honolulu Marathon will take place.
There are a number of military organizations that are affiliated with the festivities, including the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Veterans, the Fleet Reserve Assn., the U.S. Naval Academy and Alumni Association and Foundation, West Point Association of Graduates, the Air Force Academy Association of Graduates, the Navy League of the United States and the Armed Services YMCA.
“The 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor will focus the world’s attention on Hawaii and provide us this unique opportunity to honor the last of those who experienced the emotional awakening triggered on that ‘date which will live in infamy’ and perpetuate those core values that they shared,” Fargo said. “The 75th Commemoration embraces our acknowledgement and respect for all men and women who have answered the call of duty for the last seven decades and honors those during WWII who did everything possible to protect our nation and the world. I am privileged to lead the 75th Commemoration of Pearl Harbor Committee.”
Located on the island of Oahu, Pearl Harbor remains an active military base and, as a National Historic Landmark, is home to four historic sites. Visitors to Pearl Harbor can explore the Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. It is the largest natural harbor in the state of Hawaii and is one of the top destinations in Oahu.
Individuals can support the event by purchasing special merchandise online.
“We have received an overwhelming request for memorabilia in honor of this date that ‘will live in infamy,’” said Tony Vericella, 75th Commemoration Pearl Harbor Committee executive director, in a statement. “We are proud to offer a great selection of quality merchandise.”
There have also been a number of companies who have sponsored the initiative. American Airlines, one of the event’s top-tier supporters, will be sponsoring a 75th Pearl Harbor Commemoration Flight.
The exclusive airbus charter from Los Angeles to Honolulu will host approximately 120 Pearl Harbor survivors, World War II veterans and their companions to attend the 75th Pearl Harbor Commemoration. Actor Gary Sinise will also be on the flight; he and the Lt. Dan Band will be performing live on Dec. 5 for a free concert.
“Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans are among our nation’s bravest heroes, and we are proud to provide a special honor flight to the 75th Pearl Harbor Commemoration,” said David Seymour, senior vp of integrated operations at American Airlines, in a statement. “Our long-standing commitment to veterans and their families is steadfast and is demonstrated by the thousands of hours of volunteer time our employees donate every year to causes like these that are so close to our hearts. We are truly honored to participate in this incredible event where our nation’s heroes will be celebrated for their courage and commitment to our country.”
“Fighting Two Wars: A Tribute to AJA Veterans” will be held at the Hawaii Convention Center on Dec. 5. Veterans of four military units comprised primarily of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) will be honored, including the 100th Infantry Battalion, Military Intelligence Service, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. The event will include a luncheon and remarks by Hawaii Gov. David Ige and former Gov. George Ariyoshi. A limited number of tickets are available to individuals and outside organizations at pearlharbor75thanniversary.com.