Pearl Harbor Annual Memorial Ceremony: Could it be the Last?

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December 7, 1941. The Japanese ambassador to the United States is instructed by the Japanese government to destroy all official documents and deliver only 14 pages to Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

Japanese attack planes are sighted and reported, believed to be the American planes due in that morning, and ignored.

A Japanese submarine is spotted trying to get into the harbor, American troops fire at it, report it, and the incident is promptly dismissed.

A peaceful, quiet morning in Hawaii is broken by the sounds of planes droning in the sky, torpedoes striking ships, screams of the dying, the smell of burning ships and human flesh. For those that were there, it was a morning they could never forget.

At 7:55 a.m. chaos reigns, lives are lost, ships are sunk, and families are torn apart. That very same day, Congress passed a U.S. Declaration of War upon Japan, and WWII begins.

The nation of America would never forget the attack either, since it marked the beginning of WWII…or so people thought at the time. Never did they think a day would come, 70 years later, when the American people would care so little for their own history and their own people. Never could they have imagined a time when Americans would forget the lives of those lost not only that day at Pearl Harbor, but throughout the duration of the war.

It’s true, some do remember, but few care. Few care to take a few moments out of their day to honor those that died that day. “It doesn’t have anything to do with me. That was 70 years ago. I’d rather look at women’s bare bums or watch Miley Cyrus make a complete idiot of herself.” What does it have to do with you, you ask? Well, the reason you even have the freedom to follow Miley on Twitter is because of everything vast numbers of people have sacrificed through the years, ever since the birth of this nation.

Many have harped on the various problems of this country, though in my personal opinion the biggest problem is a lack of thankfulness. We, myself included, forget about our service men and women so much that when we do say thank you, it’s only on Veterans Day. They should be honored and thanked every day of the year. Thank you for putting your life, relationship with your family, your dreams and goals on the line that I may live in freedom and peace!

Ninety-three year old Louis Conter, a Pearl Harbor survivor, told Fox News that though it happened generations ago,

“it’s always like yesterday when we’re out here,”

speaking of the memorial service he attended in Honolulu Sunday. The veterans who gathered to commemorate the day were greeted by the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Band. The group looked out out over the harbor where the USS Arizona still lies, throwing leis out into the bay, each reliving his own memories in his thoughts.

Obama gave a speech Friday regarding the occasion.

“Today, with solemn gratitude, we recall the sacrifice of all who served during WWII, especially those who gave their last full measure of devotion and the families they left behind.”

Ninety-seven year old John Anderson was thinking of his twin brother Delbert, who still lies under the surface along with the Arizona. They were both there that fateful day, though only one made it out alive. According to the AP, John was ordered off the ship and forced into a small boat that took him away from the destruction. Not wanting to leave his brother behind, John took an empty boat back out to the Arizona, rescuing three men, but never found his brother. The AP also recorded that two men attending Sunday’s ceremony had been part of a group of six shipmen that escaped the burning boat by maneuvering hand over hand down a rope stretched 45 feet up in the air, even with burns covering over 60% of their bodies.

Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of the Pacific Air Forces, spoke at the memorial ceremony, telling of the lives of firefighters from the Honolulu Fire Department who became soldiers that day when they responded to the alarm.

“Without knowing it, the Honolulu Fire Department was going to war. Three firefighters would never return, and six others would be seriously injured.”

The movie, Pearl Harbor, released in 2001, received numerous awards for its portrayal of the sacrifices made that day.

The Arizona can still be seen just under the surface, a watery grave to more than 900 Americans. A total of 1,177 men died on the Arizona that day.

The son of one Pearl Harbor survivor that recently passed away made the trip to Honolulu for the annual memorial service in honor of his father.

“This is our duty to keep the memory of what happened alive,”

he said. Attendance was low in comparison to other years however and interest on the mainland was nearly nonexistent. As one Pearl Harbor survivor told USA Today,

“There’s not many of us left to think about it.”

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About the Author

T.S. Walker
T.S. Walker is a freelance writer and a voracious reader, who enjoys simple things, laughter with loved ones, and wide open spaces.

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