HONOLULU, Hi. (WDVM) — Dec. 7, 1941, is one of the most memorable dates in American history. It was the date that hundreds of Japanese warplanes attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
On Dec. 7, 2021, more than 200 World War II veterans, 32 of which are Pearl Harbor Survivors, traveled to the island of Oahu in Hawaii to honor the valor and sacrifice of American military personnel and civilians who died in the attack. Their names are inscribed on a floor-to-ceiling granite wall in the arch of the Arizona Memorial that straddles the sunken warship. That ship is where more than half of the total casualties occurred when an armor-piercing shell dropped by a Japanese dive bomber penetrated the deck of USS Arizona and exploded in a forward powder magazine.
The ceremony on Kilo Pier in Pearl Harbor began with a moment of silence and presentation of the colors. Aging warriors, some more than 100 years old stood at attention and saluted the American flag as the National Anthem was played before a pre-recorded message from President Joe Biden was played. In that message, Biden repeated what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said 80 years ago when he asked Congress for a declaration of war against Japan.
Roosevelt told the American people who were listening on the radio that “the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
Below is a copy of his typewritten proposed message to Congress with handwritten changes made by FDR as he traveled to Capitol Hill in his presidential limousine.
Referring to Roosevelt’s speech, Biden said, “December 7th, 1941 is still that day that lives in infamy 80 years later.”
Rear Adm. Timothy J. Kott, commander of Navy Region Hawaii saluted each of the veterans who came to Honolulu to pay their respects to fallen comrades.
“Veterans, it is truly an honor to welcome you to Pearl Harbor,” said Kott, “We extend our ‘Aloha’ and deep appreciation in recognition of your selfless service and sacrifice on that day in 1941 and all of the years that followed.
Herb Elfring, a Pearl Harbor Survivor, told the gathering he couldn’t believe that Japan was able to destroy five battleships and damage three others in addition to destroying most of America’s warplanes at nearby Hickham Field and other airfields on Oahu.
The Honorable Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Navy, delivered the keynote address. “We gather today to remember all of those that we lost on that grimmest day,” said Del Torro, “We also gather to honor the bravery and skill of all those who fought back, who saved lives and those who persevered.”
The National Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance concluded with a 21 gun salute by Marines assigned to Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron [VMU-3] and the playing of Echo Taps by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band.