Annual Pearl Harbor Day On Oahu
81ST ANNIVERSARY – 2022
Remember Pearl Harbor is something we repeat and is on our tagline because there are so many important lessons to be learned from the events of that infamous day back in 1941. “A day that will live in infamy,” said Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, in his speech responding to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Each year on December 7, Pearl Harbor Survivors, veterans, and visitors from all over the world come together to honor and remember the 2,403 service members and civilians killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
This year, for its 81st Commemoration, the focus is on the Greatest Generation and the sacrifices made by those who served America in World War II and on the war home front. Tents are set up at the Visitor Center, and the proceedings are broadcast so those who can not attend personally can participate. Early on Wednesday morning, December 7, 2022, many will gather at Pearl Harbor National Memorial for the 81st Commemoration. The early start marks the moment 81 years ago when Japanese warplanes descended on Oahu, killing 2,403 service members and civilians, injuring thousands more, and dealing a near-fatal blow to the US Navy fleet at Pearl Harbor.
The events at Pearl Harbor include; wreath-laying, military band music, rifle salutes, various aircraft fly-overs, the ringing of ship bells, the national anthem, and moments of silence.
Ceremonies and events will take place at the Utah and Oklahoma memorials on Ford Island. These are more personal, smaller affairs that occur either the day before at 5:00 pm (for Utah) or 1:00 pm on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day at the Oklahoma Memorial.
These ceremonies emphasize the importance of these two ships and the sacrifices the men made at the beginning of the United States’ entry into WWII and the Pacific war effort.
In 2019, a survivor from the ship was interned in the ship with his shipmates, and his name was placed on the wall at the Memorial. Just before sunset, Navy divers, along with divers from the Wounded Warriors program and park service personnel, placed the remains of the sailor into the sunken hull of Arizona. Other remaining survivors have indicated that they wish to be buried in their family plots.
Only a few who were there that day can still attend the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremonies.
The dayʻs events for the general public end with a wonderful parade down King Kalakaua Blvd. in Waikiki. Each service branch is represented with light-filled balloons, music, veterans, and more.
The Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade is the official parade marking the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It takes place annually and is recognized by the city of Honolulu, the state of Hawaii, Pacific Historic Parks, The Navy League, The Military Order of the Purple Hearts, each of the Branches of the Military, along with the Historic Programs organization.
Marching bands from across the United States and dancers liven things up while Harleys, vintage cars, and veteran-led car clubs show off their rides.
Sit along the streets and experience the festivities of national pride while waving flags and cheering the participating groups, including our young leaders like the Girl Scouts, military cadets, and school groups.
No commercial tours are offered at the park today, but you are still welcome to visit using your Passport To Pearl Harbor. Getting into the park Visitor Center first thing in the morning involves waiting in line for up to an hour. (Arriving after the main ceremonies, closer to 10:00 am, will allow you quicker access and better parking too.) All attractions are open and filled with Navy personnel in dress uniforms, veteran survivors, and their friends and family. Itʻs a wonderful opportunity to listen to their personal stories, hear about events that never made it into the news or books, and be able to personally thank those of the “Greatest Generation.”
A lot of the dayʻs activities are centered around the memorial where over 1177 sailors and marines are forever interned. Their lives are honored by having their names on the wall within the memorial that straddles the sunken battleship. Wreaths are placed throughout, provided by organizations, cities and states from all over the country and world, such as the Northern Territory in Australia.
Visiting the memorial when itʻs full of Navy personnel is a sight to behold. Their stark white uniforms, like the memorial itself, is a strong reminder of the bravery and sacrifice made by men like themselves over 70 years before.
There was much to celebrate in 2019 on the 78th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. 2018 had been a tough year for the aging monument, with the closing of the memorial due to the dock having broken away from the structure in May of 2018. Repairs took 16 months, and the Memorial reopened on September 1st, 2019. During that time, volunteers also repainted and repaired the structure’s interior. With wondrous surprise, visitors observed a Hawaiian green sea turtle that appeared briefly over the sunken hull directly below the viewing window. All this as Navy personnel hosted flags within the memorial, making for a meaningful event for everyone involved.
The other historic sites at Pearl Harbor are open as usual on this day. The views from the battleship USS Missouri that stands in-watch over Arizona are incredible. This is a must-do on this day as you can clearly see from the mighty battleship all the activity that goes on throughout the harbor.
At the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, events are set up in hanger 79 so visits are limited. However, most of the vintage planes are moved out of the hanger onto the tarmac, offering a unique viewing opportunity unlike any other day. Check out the bullet holes in the building from the 1941 attack that are still clearly visible today, almost 80 years later.
The Bowfin Submarine is a great boat to visit on this day because it was launched exactly 1 year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Dubbed the “Pearl Harbor Avenger”, this boat went on to distinguish itself in wartime service with 11 battle flags. The sub definitely avenged the lives lost and the fear caused in 1941.
For those who can not attend any of the events here in Oahu, we encourage you to visit Pearl Harbor on another day or learn more about the tragic events of World War 2 and beyond.
Check out our other blog posts to learn more about Hawaii’s history and other important Oahu sites, such as Punchbowl Crater, home to The National Cemetery Of The Pacific.