Remembering Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later

Hawaii is in the spotlight today for the 75th anniversary of the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor.

Every year the anniversary helps us remember the lessons learned from the Japan attack that led the U.S. into World War II. Pearl Harbor survivors visit Hawaii during the anniversary to remember their lost comrades, many of whom are entombed in the sunken USS Arizona.

The tragedy lives in their minds. But for a new generation, the event is only real in history books, online, and in films. My sister, a preschool teacher, recently gave her two children a hands-on lesson about the Pearl Harbor attack, especially since it happened here at home. So during their school break this year, she took her 11-year-old daughter, Kailee, and 9-year-old son, Zachree, to Pearl Harbor for a living classroom experience. Here’s how she made history come alive for them.

Hollywood version

First, she brought them to their neighborhood public library to borrow two films about the Pearl Harbor attack – the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! and the more contemporary 2001 film Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck. 

USS Arizona Memorial

Then she took them to Pearl Harbor to see the memorial created in 1962 to honor the 1,177 crewmen killed during the attack. Free tickets to visit the memorial are available through the U.S. National Park Service. About 1,300 people take the tour every day. The tour starts with watching a 23-minute documentary film about the attack. You then board a U.S. Navy shuttle boat for a short ride to the memorial that was built above the sunken ship.

Designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis, the memorial has a marble wall behind velvet ropes that list the names of those killed on the Arizona. A small plaque bears the names of about 30 surviving crew members. Some Pearl Harbor survivors have their ashes scattered in the water over the sunken ship or their urns placed within the ship. 

Other historical attractions

There are other sites at Pearl Harbor open to the public for a fee, including the USS Bowfin submarine, which successfully fought enemy ships during the war, and the USS Missouri, where the treaty to end the war was signed. And on Ford Island is the Pacific Aviation Museum. The museum occupies two hangars and Ford Island Control Tower, which still shows some of the damage from Pearl Harbor attack.

The museum showcases restored and model planes and other aircraft from battles in the Pacific. Kailee (left) reads up on the history of the aircrafts. Zachree (right) has developed a love for airplanes since visiting the museum

Plaques and exhibits explain battles that the U.S. fought in the Pacific.

Check out events from the 75th anniversary Pearl Harbor commemoration here

Have you visited Pearl Harbor? Let us know about your experience.