Pearl Harbor’s Anniversary

The Anniversary and Remembering the Fallen and Heroes

About Pearl Harbor

The area known as Pearl Harbor is a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii.  Located near the center of the Pacific Ocean, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is roughly 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland and about 4,000 miles from Japan.   Despite growing hostilities between America and Japan,  no one thought Japan would start a war with an attack on the distant islands of Hawaii.

Additionally, American intelligence officials were confident that any Japanese attack would take place in one of the nearby European colonies in the South Pacific, either the Dutch East Indies, Singapore or Indochina.

With American military leaders not expecting an attack in Hawaii, the naval facilities at Pearl Harbor were relatively undefended. Almost the entire Pacific Fleet was moored around Ford Island in the harbor, and airplanes were squeezed onto adjacent airfields.   But, this gathering of American vessels and planes made Pearl Harbor an ideal target for the Japanese.

Pearl Harbor, the Target

In 1941, it was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7th.   Just before 8 a.m. on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight battleships, and over 300 airplanes. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

Though the attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise, the United States and Japan had experienced an increasingly troubled relationship.

The United States was displeased with Japan’s consistently increasingly belligerence toward China. The Japanese government believed that the only way to solve its economic and demographic problems was to expand into China’s territory and take over its import market.

To this end, Japan declared war on China in 1937, resulting in the Nanking Massacre and other atrocities.

American officials responded to this aggression with a battery of economic sanctions and trade embargoes. They reasoned that without access to money and goods, and especially essential supplies like oil, Japan would have to rein in its expansionism.

Instead, the sanctions made the Japanese more determined to stand their ground. During months of negotiations between Japan and the U. S., neither side would budge. It seemed that war was all but inevitable.

The Destruction

Japan’s goal: Destroy the Pacific Fleet. The Japanese thought Americans would not be able to fight back as Japan’s armed forces spread across the South Pacific, if the U. S. lost their Pacific Fleet.

Pearl Harbor attack, December 7, 1941 -Brittanica photo

Entering the Pearl Harbor area under the cover of a blazing sun, on December 7, after months of planning and practice, the Japanese attacked.

Close to 8 a.m., Japanese planes filled the sky over Pearl Harbor. Bombs and bullets rained onto the vessels moored below. Within 10 minutes, an 1,800-pound bomb smashed the deck of the battleship USS Arizona and landed in the ammunition magazine. The ship exploded and sank with more than 1,000 men trapped inside.

Torpedoes then pierced the shell of the battleship USS Oklahoma. With 400 sailors aboard, the Oklahoma rolled onto her side and slipped underwater.

Less than two hours later, the surprise attack was over, and every battleship in Pearl Harbor: the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS California, USS West Virginia, USS Utah, USS Maryland, USS Pennsylvania, USS Tennessee and USS Nevada all had suffered significant damage. (Later, all but USS Arizona and USS Utah were eventually salvaged and repaired.)

Despite the Losses

While, the Japanese attack crippled or destroyed 20 American ships and more than 300 airplanes, along with dry docks and airfields.  More crushingly, 2,403 sailors, soldiers and civilians were killed and about 1,000 were wounded.

However, Japan failed to cripple the Pacific Fleet.  At that time, battleships were not considered the most important naval vessel. American aircraft carriers happened to all be away from the Pearl Harbor base on December 7.   A few had gone to the mainland, while others were delivering planes to Midway and Wake Islands.

And, incredibly, the Pearl Harbor attack left the base’s most vital onshore facilities, such as oil storage depots, repair shops, shipyards and submarine docks, almost untouched.   Because of this, the U.S. Navy was able to rebound relatively quickly from the attack.

History Tells US

The attack on Pearl Harbor united American citizens in a desire to enter World War II.  While the Japanese had intended to push America into dropping sanctions against them, instead they bullied America into war against them.  And, America entered World War II.  After more than two years after the start of World War II, the United States entered that war.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt called December 7th a “Day that would live in Infamy” and it is remembered as such.

The Pearl Harbor Memorial – photo

The site of the attack has become a Memorial and Historic site with thousands of visitors every year.

Each year on December 7th, our nation recalls that day.  In particular, military and Veteran organizations make it a priority to honor those lost that day and also  the heroes who helped protect the base.  One of the most notable organizations noting the anniversary and, in particular, landmark anniversaries is the Gary Sinise Foundation and the organization especially marked the 75th anniversary.   The 80th anniversary will be marked on December 7, 2021.

Gary Sinise Foundation ~ Marking Pearl Harbor’s Anniversary

Looking Back

What followed that early morning attack on Pearl Harbor has gone down in history as a valiant fight by our military heroes stationed at Pearl Harbor to ward off further destruction.  Those who lost their lives and those who survived will forever be remembered for their heroism, along with their military brothers and sisters who carried that fight forward in the battles of World War II.

The Memorial

On December of 2016, the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor was marked in a joint effort by military affiliation groups, the national parks services pertinent memorial sites and many sponsors in a commemoration dedicated to the heroes of Pearl Harbor.  On hand for this event was Gary Sinise and the Gary Sinise Foundation, which serves American Veterans, along with Mr. Sinise’s band, the Lt. Dan Band, borrowing Sinise’s character in the movie, Forrest Gump, in which he portrayed a disabled military veteran.



 Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted. We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.

– Gary Sinise


An Anniversary: A Reminder to Care for Veterans

American citizens need to be aware of the work of the Gary Sinise Foundation and similar programs, which have been founded to resolve the urgent need to take care of our Veterans, who so nobly took care of protecting our country and our freedom.  Awareness of the challenges Veterans face and continue to face after their service to America has ended is a first step in resolving the tremendous gap in needs versus services provided.

An Example Many Can Follow

Sinise and others, like him, who have stepped up to address and resolve a problem are a prime example of the American Spirit and a “Be The One” example as promoted on The Founding Project’s Facebook Page.

Links to a film about the anniversary remembrance event and information about the Gary Sinise Foundation and the World War II Memorial at Pearl Harbor are provided at the end of this article.

– The Founding Project Staff Writers

See also, TFP’s story about a Pearl Harbor hero: The Dorie Story, Pearl Harbor Hero

Feature photo: courtesy of


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.