National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day takes place on Dec. 7 of each year, on the anniversary of the horrific attack that sent the United States into World War II. Over 2,400 military personnel and civilians lost their lives that day. Many more Pearl Harbor veterans died from service-related injuries or illnesses, like a cancer called mesothelioma. Learn how you can honor those who served this year.
Remembering Pearl Harbor
2021 marks the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which claimed the lives of 2,335 military service members and 68 civilians on Dec. 7, 1941. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day — which was first established in 1994 — keeps the memory of those who were killed alive for generations to come.
Each year, a wide variety of celebrations are held to commemorate the attack and honor those who served. This includes an annual ceremony at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial that surviving World War II veterans and their families attend.
Whether you served or are a grateful civilian, it’s important to remember Pearl Harbor and honor everyone who served their country. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to remember this year.
Pearl Harbor & Veterans With Mesothelioma
While thousands were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, many more died in the line of duty or from long-term injuries and illnesses stemming from military service. Notably, veterans that served during World War II may have been exposed to asbestos — a material that causes a cancer called mesothelioma.
The military heavily relied on asbestos to build planes, vehicles, bases, and ships throughout World War II and into the late 1970s. If these assets were damaged or disturbed, they could release asbestos fibers into the air. Anyone who inhales or swallows asbestos fibers is at risk of developing mesothelioma 20-50 years later.
Frank Curre was just 18 years old when Pearl Harbor changed his life forever. Serving aboard the USS Tennessee, he witnessed the horror and destruction firsthand.
On Dec. 7, 2011 — the 70th anniversary of the attack — Frank died of mesothelioma. Thankfully, Frank was able to help his family by filing a mesothelioma lawsuit before he passed.
How to Observe National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
Visit Pearl Harbor
On December 7th, various ceremonies are held to mark the anniversary of the attack. 2021 will feature an in-person commemoration after a hiatus in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s theme is “Valor, Sacrifice, and Peace”.
Dozens of World War II veterans are expected to attend the events, including several who were at Pearl Harbor during the attack. The main ceremony will take place at 7:45 a.m. Civilian seating is determined via lottery.
Other ceremonies for the USS Arizona, USS Utah, USS Nevada, and USS Oklahoma — all of which sank in the attack — will take place throughout the day. There will also be a Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade.
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial will be open to visitors on Dec. 7, but some restrictions may apply. Visit the National Park Service’s official website for more information. Several livestreams of the ceremonies will also be available.
Study the History
As time marches on, surviving veterans and historians fear that the attack on Pearl Harbor is being forgotten. We must always remember the bravery and acts of heroism that were on display that fateful day.
Do your part to remember Pearl Harbor by:
- Encouraging others to brush up on the events
- Reading a book or watching a documentary on the attack
- Talking to a veteran, their family, or others who were alive during the attack
In a 2016 interview with the Orange County Register, one Pearl Harbor veteran lamented that people were forgetting about this defining moment in U.S. history.
“So many people have never heard of Pearl Harbor. They should teach about it more in the schools. You’d be surprised how many young people don’t know about Pearl Harbor.”
— John Ballard, Pearl Harbor veteran
Donate to Veterans Groups
Making a financial donation to veterans groups is a great way to help keep the memory of those who served alive. Of particular importance are groups that focus on World War II veterans as roughly 300,000 of the 16 million Americans that served in that war are alive today.
Notable veterans groups include:
- Heroes of the Second World War
- The Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors
- World War II Veterans Committee
Never Forget Pearl Harbor & Those Who Served
80 years on, Pearl Harbor remains burned into the consciousness of a generation and the fabric of our history. The heroism shown that day by so many will never be forgotten.
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day reminds us to honor those who lost their lives in the attacks, veterans who passed from mesothelioma or other service-related illnesses, and those who are still with us.
This year, do your part and celebrate National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Whether you visit Pearl Harbor itself or simply thank a veteran, anything you do to honor the sacrifices made will be well worth your time.