Looking Back – Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor survivor Bill Johnson stares at the list of names inscribed in the USS Arizona Memorial

U.S. Navy File photo

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, in the early morning hours on a quiet Sunday, Japanese fighters launched a surprise aerial attack on the American base, killing more than 2,400 people, both civilians and service members alike, and damaging or destroying more than 20 ships. The USS Arizona, one of many dreadnoughts moored in Battleship Row, saw the most casualties with 1,177 service members losing their lives. The event prompted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to declare in his famous speech that this is “a date that will live in infamy.” In 1994, Congress passed a joint resolution designating each December 7 as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.” In accordance with that resolution, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring December 7, 2016, to be National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and urging all Americans to support our troops and veterans both here and abroad. Now, 75 years later, we remember those brave men and women of the "greatest generation" who gave their lives in service of this country and honor those servicemen and women who continue to risk their lives in the name of liberty. 

If you would like more information about Pearl Harbor and the events scheduled for its commemoration, please see the following links:

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument  - This website of the National Park Service provides much useful information about the monument it maintains including information about the USS Arizona Memorial, the effect of the Pacific War on Hawaii, and about the attack itself. It also features photographs and video and audio archives. You can also track the experience of a NPS archaeologist who conducts research dives at the monument and view some past dives to the USS Arizona.

Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary Commemoration - This website details the programs and agenda for this year’s commemoration. There is a full event schedule for those who might find themselves in Honolulu during the time leading up to National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Most of the events are free and open to the public.

After the Day of Infamy: "Man-on-the-Street Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor"- The American Memory Collection of the Library of Congress is a digital collection that strives to provide free and open access to a vast array of materials that shaped American history and culture. Formats include manuscripts, photos, sound recordings, books, etc. Part of this collection is After the Day of Infamy: “Man-on-the-Street” Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Twelve hours of opinions that were recorded after the attack comprise this collection.

Pearl Harbor Oral Histories with Ann Hoog - On the pages of this website, Folklife Specialist Ann Hoog of the American Folklife Center talks about the interviews conducted in the days after the Pearl Harbor. The website also provides a list of other resources of interest available from Library of Congress websites and those of other organizations as well as some written materials.

Today in History - December 7 - This web page of the Library of Congress discusses the air attack on Pearl Harbor and includes some photographs from its collection. There are also some useful links for those who want to learn more not only about Pearl Harbor but also about World War II in general.