“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date that will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan”. These were the words that Americans and the World heard as Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed his country after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was the address that vaulted America officially into the Second World War.
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puʻuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of O’ahu Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Puʻuloa was regarded as the home of the shark goddess, Kaʻahupahau, and her brother (or son), Kahiʻuka, in Hawaiian legends. According to tradition, Keaunui, the head of the powerful Ewa chiefs, is credited with cutting a navigable channel near the present Puʻuloa saltworks, by which made the estuary, known as “Pearl River,” accessible to navigation. Although Hawaiians may have some traditional beliefs on how the harbor was created, the world knows Pearl Harbour as a place remembered in infamy. Whenever we think of Pearl Harbor, we undoubtedly think about December 7, 1941.
Now on this 70th anniversary of that fateful day, the world pauses once again to remember. Amongst the palm trees and on the water’s edge near the sunken wreck of the USS Arizona the 120 known remaining survivors of Pearl Harbour wore Hawaiian shirts and leis around their necks as they came to remember the day that changed the course of World War II. They remembered their fallen comrades, American hero’s for eternity. One survivor of that day in an interview with ABC news, spoke briefly and choked back tears as he recalled the day he will never forget, ” I remember all of these guys were close friends of mine and we lost most of them on the Arizona. And I lost my own twin brother and I couldn’t save him. And that’s my one regret”. Meanwhile, another veteran who served on the USS San Francisco, hoped that American’s and the world would always remember that “Freedom isn’t free – never has been, looks like it’s never going to be. Remember Pearl Harbour, keep America alert”.
Two-thousand four-hundred Americans and 62 Japanese died in the surprise attack. With the survivors now in their 80’s and 90’s this just might be one of the last times a ceremony of remembrance is ever held at Pearl Harbour. The surviving numbers each year, get smaller and smaller.
I recently made a visit to Hawaii and Pearl Harbour was a must see for me on my bucket list. What I recall was how sombre the feeling was. The peaceful, quietness as you stood and read the names on the memorial wall. I was fascinated and impressed at how many of the surviving vets, upon their deaths so many years later, have had their remains interned with their brothers in arms on the Arizona. There was not much discussion as we stood atop the Arizona, oil still leaking from her tanks all these years later. There were tourist from all over the world, all with their heads bowed in respect and remembrance, some with tears in their eyes. Some dropping lei’s into the water, a symbol to the sacrifice of that day. As I stood looking down at the shadows of the Arizona, thinking of all the men entombed below while the water softly brushed atop her, I noticed a Japanese woman, probably mid to late 60’s in age, kneeling off to side, she was crying. As she dropped a Lei into the water she repeated softly to herself, “Sorry, I am so Sorry”. I was totally struck to see the pain she felt for something she played no part in. We must never forget the real cost of war.
These are some of the photographs I took during my visit to Pearl Harbour.