Survivors return to Pearl Harbor to mark 80th anniversary of attack that put U.S. in WWII

A view of the Pearl Harbor U.S. naval base, looking up Battleship Row, during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. The USS Arizona is pictured at center, burning furiously. To the left of her are the USS Tennessee and the sunken USS West Virginia. File Photo by U.S. Navy/UPI

Dec. 7 (UPI) — Dozens of survivors of the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii will gather on Tuesday to mark the 80th anniversary of the event, which sent the United States into World War II.

About 40 Pearl Harbor survivors and 110 World War II veterans will attend the 80th Remembrance Ceremony at Kilo Pier in Honolulu to commemorate the loss of 2,400 service members and civilians during the surprise Japanese attack on the island of Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941.

“This year’s ceremony — ‘Valor, Sacrifice, and Peace’ — honors the sacrifices of those who died in the attack while paying tribute to the allies’ ultimate victory in WWII,” the National Parks Service said in a statement.

The event, which will include remarks by National Parks Service-Pearl Harbor National Memorial Superintendent Tom Leatherman and keynote speaker Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, will be live streamed beginning at 7:50 a.m. HST (12:50 p.m. EST)

The event will also include a performance by the Pacific Fleet Band, a wreath presentation and a fly-over.

Tuesday marks the return of surviving veterans, many of whom are now close to 100 years old, after a scaled-back ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the veterans, 800 members of the public were awarded seats to watch the live stream at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s Visitor Center.

The attack famously sank multiple battleships — including the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS West Virginia and USS California — and directly prompted the United States to enter World War II.

Other events on Tuesday include a memorial ceremony for the 429 crew members killed on the USS Oklahoma and the reinterment of the 33 remaining unknown sailors on the ship.

“Through the six-year effort of Project Oklahoma, 355 of 388 sailors and marines have been identified,” the NPS said.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was one of the most significant events of the 20th century and effectively forced the United States to enter WWII.

“A Japanese dive bomber, torpedo plane and parachute raid on the great American naval and air base [caused] heavy loss of life and property damage in an unprovoked assault which precipitated a general war in the Pacific,” United Press, the forerunner to UPI, reported on the day of the attack.


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