The Pearl Harbor Story, Then and Now
A Most Visited Site
A most visited tourist site by Americans and foreign visitors in Hawaii is the Pearl Harbor historical site. The Honolulu, Hawaii site serves as a Memorial for American service men. The story of Pearl Harbor brings chills all these many years later.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
Before the bombing by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor served as a strategic point for the US Navy forces. On that fateful day, waves of attack aircraft from Japan bombed the base. The event launched America full force into World War II. Horrifically, the death toll stood at 2,402 with 1,300 wounded. Nearly 20 American naval vessels perished including eight battleships and almost 200 airplanes.
Pearl Harbor as a Memorial Site
By order of the President of the United States, George W. Bush, the ‘World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument’ was established in 2008. By that order, nine sites were added to the U.S. national monuments. Six of these are located in Pearl Harbor.
Visited the most is the USS Arizona site. President Dwight Eisenhower established that site in 1958. With the exception of three national holidays yearly, the site is open 7 days a week. Viewing a documentary on the attack, listening to the voices of survivors, viewing exhibits, and exploring the Arizona Memorial on a Navy shuttle boat all make up a great visit to the site.
The visitor count at Pearl Harbor every year tops one million. Through the Memorial site, Pearl Harbor’s history is preserved and memories of the past kept current.
The Pearl Harbor Movies
A super way to spend at least a part of Pearl Harbor Day on December 7 is to watch a movie depicting the historical event. Of course, anytime a historical movie appears, debate commences on the accuracy compared to the real event. A quick search online and exploration of comments there tell a tale of many thinking the movie, Tora, Tora, Tora, shines through as the most accurate portrayal of the date. Pearl Harbor, a 2001 American action film re-imaged the attack on Pearl Harbor as well. Inaccuracies exist, surely, but the film was a box office smash.
A Few Interesting Additional Pearl Harbor Facts to Spur Conversation
- As the attack took place on a Sunday morning, many servicemen were sleeping and unaware of what was to occur.
- The attack was a scare tactic by Japan to prevent the United States from interfering in the war. Japan depleted huge resources on the attack.
- Pearl Harbor was attacked by two waves of planes, the first starting at 7:55 AM with 184 planes. The second set of 167 planes arrived an hour later.
- Sadly, Japan sent a declaration of war to the United States before the attack, but the United States wrongly interpreted that to merely mean an ending to negotiation. The mistake cost the United States dearly.
- Four U.S. battleships were destroyed; USS West Virginia, USS Arizona, USS Nevada, and USS Oklahoma. Prevail in the end.
- Japan incorrectly calculated that the battleships they destroyed were the main source of the United States power. In fact, aircraft carriers and submarines proved strong enough to prevail.
- Some members of Congress did not want to declare war even after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Nonetheless, war was declared the day after the attack.
- In a way, the attack on Pearl Harbor, although devastating in consequences, helped the United States. Public opinion rallied around the cause after the attack.