Wednesday 7 Dec, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day 2011: 70th Anniversary of the Attack

“Remember Dec. 7th!” Poster Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. While Americans have remembered this day with solemn tributes since 1941, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day became an official national day of remembrance in 1994.

It was on a quiet Sunday morning, before 8 o’clock, that hundreds of Japanese planes swooped down in a surprise attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor. Taken by surprise, the base was bombarded for two hours, leaving more than 2,000 Americans dead, eight battleships destroyed and the course of American and world history changed forever. The following day, Congress declared war on Japan and the United States entered World War II.

Read more about the history of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ involvement in WWII:

President Obama issued a statement honoring those who served and sacrificed— “military and civilian, men, women and children — who gave their lives in our first battle of the Second World War.”

His statement continued, “We salute the veterans and survivors of Pearl Harbor who inspire us still. Despite overwhelming odds, they fought back heroically, inspiring our nation and putting us on the path to victory.” Read President Obama’s entire statement.

With this year’s special anniversary, the National Parks Service planned a week-long event of commemorations and tributes.

As members of the Greatest Generation ages, remembering and preserving their stories becomes more and more important. The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association has about 2,700 members and will end as a corporation on December 31 or this year, but will continue it’s social events for survivors.

photo credit: D. McDermand/ The Eagle, Bryan-College Station Texas Brazos County resident John Whitley was serving his first day out of Army basic training at Pearl Harbor the day the Japanese attacked.

Read stories from soldiers who were stationed at Pearl Harbor from Smithsonian Magazine.

Find out how communities across the United States are remembering veterans and their stories on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.