Ceremony Honors 78th Anniversary of Attack on Pearl Harbor

December 7, 2019, 10:22 AM HST (Updated December 7, 2019, 12:21 PM)
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Servicemen gathered at Pearl Harbor in 2018 during the 77th commemoration ceremony of the attack on Pearl Harbor. NPS photo.

The U.S. Navy and National Park Service co-hosted a special ceremony at Pearl Harbor this morning commemorating the 2,390 American casualties of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The surprise attack crippled the U.S. Pacific fleet and entangled the U.S. in World War II.

The event was attended by survivors, World War II veterans, family members and local dignitaries including Gov. David Ige, and began with a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m.—the exact moment when the attack began nearly 80 years ago.

Among the attendees was one of the three remaining survivors, Lou Conter. Conter is a 98-year-old California resident who attended the ceremony with his family, according to Hawai‘i News Now. Conter was stationed aboard the USS Arizona when the attack happened.

“I always come out to pay respect for the 2,403 men that were killed that day, including 1,177 of my shipmates on the Arizona,” he told Hawaii News Now.

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The other two remaining survivors are Donald Stratton, 97, and Ken Potts, who is nearly 100-years-old, according to CNN.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt spoke during the commemoration, honoring the sacrifices and service of those who perished, those who survived and the many veterans who fought during World War II. He also acknowledged the fatal shooting that killed two O‘ahu men at Pearl Harbor and Naval shipyard earlier this week, offering prayers and thoughts to the families.

Separate events accompanied the remembrance, including ceremonies honoring the USS Oklahoma and the USS Utah. Both ships and their crew were lost during the attack, sustaining multiple torpedo hits and ultimately sinking within minutes. The Blackened Canteen ceremony, a commemoration of peace and reconciliation, brought Dr. Hiroya Sugano of Japan, director general of the Zero Fighter Admirers’ Club, to offer a silent prayer with a pour of bourbon whiskey from a World War II-blackened canteen. The canteen was recovered from a bomber collision over the city of Shizuoka, Japan in 1945 that killed 23 American airmen.

The White House tweeted a post in recognition of the 78th commemoration commenting: “On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we solemnly reflect on the tragic events of December 7, 1941, and honor those who perished while defending our nation.”

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