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Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day: Honoring the Lost

December 7th is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. This is an important day because it honors the people who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii.

According to the National Park Service,  2,403 servicemembers and civilians lost their lives during the Pearl Harbor attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service on Dec. 7, 1941. That day, atrocities included the sinking of the USS Arizona and USS Utah – as well as 188 destroyed aircraft.

The Surprise Attack on Pearl Harbor

The horrific, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor led to the United States entering World War II. According to the Armed Forces Benefit Association, the attacks began around 7:55 AM local time and lasted for two hours – destroying most of the United States Pacific Fleet. The Armed Forces Benefit Association names eight battleships and three cruisers destroyed during the surprise attack; and on August 23, 1994, Congress created National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day to honor the losses during this attack.

The Sinking of the USS Arizona

The USS Arizona remains in the same location where it sank during the attacks along with more than 900 sailors and Marines whose bodies were never recovered. Today, a memorial stands over the USS Arizona – honoring those who lost their lives. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the ship sank after Japanese horizontal airplanes bombed the vessel and caused it to catch fire and stay ablaze for more than two days. The fire reached temperatures as high as 8,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than three times hotter than volcanic lava, according to Time.

The United States Enters World War II

Following the attacks, the Japanese immediately attacked United States and British bases in the Phillipines, Guam, Midway Island, Wake Island and Hong Kong, giving the Japanese control over the Pacific. According to the National World War II Museum, the attack on Pearl Harbor prompted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to rally the nation to engage in the global conflict of World War II, something he was strongly hoping to avoid.

[Related article: Five Historic Pearl Harbor Landmarks]

It is vital that the memory of the horrific events involving the attacks on Pearl Harbor are not forgotten. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is an important day of the year that memorializes those lost during the attacks and serves as a reminder of the attacks we experienced. Military veterans who survived the attacks on Pearl Harbor, other veterans, and people from all around the world will participate in National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day – to pause and remember 12/7/41 – the Greatest Generation’s 9/11, a day that President Franklin D. Roosevelt called “a date which will live in infamy.”

Jarrod Sadulski

Dr. Sadulski is an Associate Professor within our School of Security and Global Studies. He has over two decades in the field of criminal justice. His expertise includes training on countering human trafficking, maritime security, effective stress management in policing and narcotics trafficking trends in Latin America. Jarrod frequently conducts in-country research and consultant work in Central and South America on human trafficking and current trends in narcotics trafficking. He also has a background in business development. Jarrod can be reached through his website at for more information.

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