In a little over three weeks, I will be attending the commemorative events marking the seventy-fifth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I am looking forward to the various events that will mark not only the “date which will live in infamy” where over 2400 servicemen, service women, and civilians lost their lives, but the reconciliation that has taken place since the surrender of Japan in September of 1945.
My week of commemoration will start on Saturday, December 3rd with a visit to the Punchbowl National Cemetery where I will visit the grave the most prolific war correspondent, Ernie Pyle, who died in 1945 on the island of Okinawa. I plan to visit other memorials to ordinary soldiers who lost their lives in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Later that evening, I will attend a gala at the Pacific Aviation Museum, “For Love of Country – Pass It On” for an evening of commemoration supporting the museum and its restoration projects that keep the history of that era front and center. David Hartman and Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson will be the guests of honor at this event.
Sunday will include a meeting with USS Arizona survivors and Medal of Honor recipient, Woody Williams, at the documentary film premiere, “Remember Pearl Harbor” which presents interviews with 36 participants and eyewitnesses to the attack. The film is narrated by Tom Selleck. This event also takes place at the Pacific Aviation Museum.
On Monday, I will spend the day exploring the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri. The sinking of the USS Arizona began World War II for the United States and the USS Missouri accepted the surrender of the Japanese in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. These two mighty ships bookend World War II for the United States. This wil be a day of reflection and remembrance of the losses suffered by all the combatant nations during WWII. The evening will end with a movie on Waikiki Beach, “From Here to Eternity” sponsored by the US Army with a concert by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.
Tuesday morning, December 6th, will be an early wake up with the “Blackened Canteen Ceremony” at the USS Arizona Memorial scheduled to take place at 7:00am Hawaii Time. This ceremony is a reconciliation and time of prayer for the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives for both the United States and Japan. Dr. Hiroya Sugano conducts the ceremonial pouring of whiskey into the sacred waters of Pearl Harbor from the blackened canteen that was salvaged from the crash of two American B-29 bombers after bombing Shizuoka, Japan in 1945. The American airmen who lost their lives in the crash were buried in the same cemetery as those civilians who were killed in the bombing. Dr. Sugano has been conducting this ceremony for the past twenty years. This is one of the ceremonies that I am looking forward to the most. Later that evening, I will attend the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Gala at the Hilton Hawaiian Village which will pay tribute to the World War II veterans who are able to attend the week’s events.
Wednesday morning, December 7th, starts at 7:45am Hawaii Time with the actual commemoration of the attack with speeches by many dignitaries including President Barack Obama. This will be a time for the entire country to remember the attack, its aftermath, and the reconciliation that occurred once Japan surrendered.
Thursday will include a visit to the USS Nevada for a remembrance ceremony and the rededication of the Doris “Dorie” Miller Barracks. Dorie Miller was the first African-American to earn the Navy Cross for his heroic action in defending his ship during opening moments of the Attack on Pear Harbor. I will close the day with another movie, “The Sands of Iwo Jima” sponsored by the Marine Corps on Waikiki Beach.
I depart on Friday for Belmont after attending the play, “Righteous Revenge”. This play remembers the daring bombing raid of Tokyo by General Jimmy Doolittle and his raiders and the evening will be hosted by Pat Sajak and Joe Moore.
I am looking forward to this trip for many reasons and I know it will be a once in a lifetime experience for me. The trip will mark the completion of a goal to visit all fifty United States. I am truly excited about this adventure and know I will learn many interesting facts and meet many wonderful individuals. I am thankful that I live in a country that remembers its history.
For more information about the events during the week, visit, www.pearlharbor75thanniversary.com