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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, December 7, 2001

Pearl Harbor: 60 days later, a day of tribute

Today's Pearl Harbor events
Special report: Pearl Harbor plus 60 years
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman links Pearl Harbor, Sept. 11

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

A photo from the Hawai'i State Archives shows the USS Arizona sinking at Pearl Harbor after the attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

Advertiser library photo

Six decades after a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor shocked the world and changed history, Hawai'i and the rest of the nation will pause today to honor a generation of heroes.

Commemorations, speeches and solemn moments of silence this week already have marked the 60th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor that took 2,390 lives, 49 of them civilians.

But none of the ceremonies will compare to what happens today, Dec. 7, 2001.

The steady parade of boats that have been shuttling visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial will stop this morning in honor of the services held above the rusting wreckage.

A shuttle boat positions itself near the rusting hull of the USS Utah. Former crew members of the Utah, friends and family members attended a memorial service honoring sailors killed in the Japanese attack.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The History Channel will broadcast live coverage, featuring interviews with the aging survivors of the attack. President Bush will visit the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia to tour the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, remembering Americans killed at Pearl Harbor and honoring U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan.

The Air Force Hawai'i Honor Guard will perform a 21-gun salute at Hickam Air Force Base. Marines will lay a wreath to honor the aviators who died during the Japanese attack at Naval Air Station Kane'ohe Bay. Ceremonies will honor the dead at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

And at 7:55 a.m., the moment the Japanese bombs began to fall, there will be a moment of silence on the Arizona Memorial.

The memorial will be closed to the general public. But National Park Service officials at the visitors center will continue to show the regular movie describing the attack.

"We expect to have a lot of people here," said spokesman Don Boyer.

Busy park rangers haven't had time to count the number of visitors this week, but the boats to the memorial have been going out full, Boyer said.

"With all of the survivors — 700-plus survivors and their families — it's been real busy," Boyer said. Survivors have met one another at the visitors center and offered their memories to rangers and tourists, Boyer said.

"It's actually been a pretty joyful occasion," he said, "considering that this is such a solemn occasion." Survivors from the around the country began arriving on O'ahu last Friday for a weeklong 60th anniversary conference sponsored by the National Park Service that ended with a gala banquet on Wednesday. There have been daily events at the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor's Center in honor of the survivors, including salutes from every branch of the military.

The conference united Pearl Harbor survivors and scholars, and there were the world premiere showings of documentary films by the History and Discovery channels, and special flag-raising ceremonies with survivors.

In addition, the Pearl Harbor Survivor Association and USS Arizona Survivor Association are on the Island for their reunions. An estimated 2,200 people — survivors and their families — are here from more than 35 states. About one-quarter are actual survivors. The Pearl Harbor Survivor Association has about 2,000 members nationally.

More than 3,000 people are expected at a solemn Punchbowl ceremony at 10 this morning — the biggest of the many gatherings for the 60th anniversary.

"Sam Donaldson Live in America" aired from Waikiki this morning with interviews of survivors and comparisons between the attacks of Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001.

Host Sam Donaldson is also here to address the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association at their annual banquet tonight and said he will touch on the same theme.

But the veteran reporter, former chief White House correspondent for ABC News, said the attack on Pearl Harbor had a far great impact on the United States than the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was an event of "history-changing proportions" because it thrust the United States into a four-year war that cost 65 million lives, he said yesterday.

Donaldson's show is not carried by the local ABC radio affiliate.

Advertiser staff writers Mike Gordon and William Cole contributed to this report.