The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."
At Pearl Harbor (a component of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument) and other locations on Oahu, a multitude of events, special exhibits and activities were scheduled for December 4 – 8 in association with the commemoration of the Japanese attack that plunged America into World War II. Today, on the 69th Anniversary of that December 7, 1941, attack, the dedication of the new $56 million Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is a highlight event.
Scheduled for 7:30 a.m., the joint National Park Service/U.S. Navy commemoration and dedication is taking place on the back lawn of the visitor center (which faces the U.S.S Arizona Memorial) and is open to the public. There will be a stellar slate of guest speakers, including Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service director Jon Jarvis as well as the Honorable Daniel K. Inouye (United States Senate), Admiral Patrick M. Walsh (Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet), Admiral Thomas B. Fargo (retired former Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command), and keynote speaker Thomas Strickland, Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife and the Parks.
Among the 2,500 in attendance will be more than 200 Pearl Harbor attack survivors. The theme of this year’s historic commemoration, “A Promise Fulfilled: 1941 – 2010,” is dedicated to these honored veterans. Members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors organization from all over America are attending their annual meeting in Honolulu during December 4th to December 8th so they (and more than 300 family members and friends) can participate in the anniversary commemoration and the dedication of the new visitor center.
The Pearl Harbor Survivors have played an integral role in volunteering and supporting the National Park Service administration of the USS Arizona Memorial since 1980. In 2007, the organization helped raise money for the new visitor center and museum, supporting the national fundraising efforts of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund and the Arizona Memorial Museum Association (now known as Pacific Historic Parks).
Highlights of the ceremony include music by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, morning colors, a Hawaiian blessing, a rifle salute by members of the U.S. Marine Corps, wreath presentations, echo taps, and recognition of both the men and women who survived the attack and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
A moment of silence will be observed at 7:55 a.m. (12:55 p.m. EDT), the exact moment the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began 69 years ago. The USS Chafee (DDG 90) will render honors to the USS Arizona. Military aircraft will fly over the Memorial in a “missing man” formation. A Hawaiian blessing and dedication of the new Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will follow.
The ceremony will conclude with a “Walk of Honor” by more than 200 Pearl Harbor survivors and World II veterans through an honor cordon of armed services and National Park Service men and women to officially open the new visitor center museum.
Postscript: Also on December 7, about 100 people braved 30-degree temperatures and 25 mph winds to attend a ceremony at the National World War II Memorial honoring veterans who lost their lives in the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor.