Pearl Harbor Day: Ceremony marks 70th anniversary of attack
Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies are unfolding across the country Wednesday, but most will have one common element: The nation will pause for a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time -- or 9:55 a.m. in Los Angeles and 12:55 p.m. in New York -- to mark the exact moment that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without warning 70 years ago.
The National Park Service and Navy Region Hawaii will host the official ceremony, which will take place on the lawn of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. That ceremony begins at 7:40 a.m. Hawaii time.
Survivors as well as World War II veterans will be among the several thousand in attendance for the annual observance. Seventy years may have passed, but the horrors of that day will never be forgotten.
The Dec. 7, 1941, attack caught America by surprise, killing 2,400 Americans, sinking 12 ships and destroying 188 aircraft -- and triggering U.S. entry into World War II. In fact, the U.S. declared war on Japan the following day, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the date of the attack as a "date which will live in infamy."
Each year sees the ranks of the survivors dwindling. But one of those who will be in attendance is 89-year-old William Muehleib, who recalled being asleep in a tent when he was jolted awake. “I could see underneath the tent flaps Japanese planes dropping bombs,” he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
Wednesday's remembrance will include a special tribute to the battleship Arizona, which exploded and sank during the attack, killing more than 1,100 officers and servicemen aboard. The ship's hull remains at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, marked by the USS Arizona Memorial overhead.
Earlier this week, an interment ceremony was held for one of the attack's survivors, Lee Soucy, who died recently at the age of 90. He had asked that his ashes be interred with those of his shipmates aboard the USS Utah, another ship that sank during the attack.
Wednesday's ceremony will include military band music, morning colors, a traditional Hawaiian blessing, a rifle salute by members of the armed services and wreath presentations.
And at the moment the Japanese attack began 70 years ago, a moment of silence will be observed and a "missing-man" formation flight will streak overhead.
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Photo: A Navy seaman plays taps at sunset during Tuesday's interment ceremony for Pearl Harbor survivor Lee Soucy. Credit: Associated Press / Marco Garcia.