World War II veterans, U.S. and allied service members, friends and family, commemorate the 78th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, at a ceremony sponsored by the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, National Parks Service, December 7 2019. This year’s ceremony — “Glimmers of Victory” — honors the sacrifices of those who died in the attack while paying tribute to the allies’ ultimate victory in WWII.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to today’s joint National Park Service, United States Navy, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony. I’m Jay Blunt, Chief of Interpretation for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, and I’m truly honored to serve as today’s Master of Ceremonies on this historic 78th anniversary. This year’s theme is “Glimmers of Victory,” in continuing to tribute the 75th anniversary of events of the war in the Pacific, the Glimmers of Victory at Coral Sea, the Doolittle Raid, and Midway, inspired and lifted the morale of the nation through those dark days of 1941 and 1942. American service members were advancing, and they were achieving victory against tyranny. They were building confidence, cooperation, and commitment with the allies. Today we pay tribute to those members of the greatest generation, who rose to the challenge, beginning here in Pearl Harbor and on Oahu, in the name of freedom, in order to achieve a more peaceful world. To our honored guests on stage, gentlemen, please remain seated, while all other guests please rise as able for the arrival of the official party. The official party for today’s ceremony includes; Miss Jacqueline Ashwell, Superintendent, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, National Park Service.
Navy Region Hawaii, and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, arriving.
The Honorable Harry Harris, Ambassador of the United States, arriving.
The Honorable David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior, arriving.
Sideboys, post. Guests, please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, it is customary on December 7th that we observe a moment of silence at 7:55 to commemorate the beginning of the attacks on Oahu. At 7:55, USS William P. Lawrence will sound her ship’s whistles to begin the moment of silence. Completing the moment of silence will be F-22 Raptors from the 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons, known as the Hawaiian Raptors, executing a missing man formation, in honor of those who lost their lives in defense of their country 78 years ago today. Please remain seated as the flyover takes place. The missing man formation was first used by the United States Military in 1938. While aircraft have evolved and modernized since then, the concept of paying tribute to the fallen with this aerial salute is still used at funerals and memorials today. You may see one aircraft from the formation fly high into the clouds to honor those lives lost on December 7th. This tactic of a single aircraft pulling away from the group was not part of the original missing man formation, but has come to be a routine element since the end of World War II. It represents a lost comrade departing, while humanity and the mission at hand continue. The gap in the formation symbolizes our fallen comrades, and demonstrates to all, that we should always remember their sacrifice. Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, please bow your heads as we observe a moment of silence to honor the events at this moment 78 years ago today.
We thank the 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons for participating in today’s ceremony. Also, a special note, among the pilots is Captain Scott Steer, grandson of World War II veteran, Frank Cherf, who is with us today.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Please rise as able for morning colors and the performance of our National Anthem and state song by the United States Pacific Fleet Band. Bugler, sound attention.
Color Guard, parade the colors.
♪ Oh say can you see ♪ ♪ By the dawn’s early light ♪ ♪ What’s so proudly we hail ♪ ♪ At the twilight’s last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪ ♪ Thro’ the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O’er the ramparts we watch’d ♪ ♪ Were so gallantly streaming ♪ ♪ And the rockets’ red glare ♪ ♪ The bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof thro’ the night ♪ ♪ That our flag was still there ♪ ♪ O say, does that star-spangled ♪ ♪ Banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O’er the land of the free ♪ ♪ And the home of the brave ♪
Retire the colors.
It is customary for ships passing the USSS Arizona Memorial to pay their respects by rendering honors. Approaching you’ll see the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence, commanded by Commander Don Allen, a native Texan. Retired Lieutenant Commander Louis Conter, USS Arizona survivor, will soon lead all World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors in a salute. These men before you represent the greatest generation in all of American history. No one before them and no one since has been asked to answer the call to serve and sacrifice in the way they did between 1941 and 1945. They fought in Pearl Harbor, they fought for the battle of Midway. It’s only fitting we honor them and those they serve throughout those fateful years. Commander Louis Conter, USS Arizona survivor, facing the USS Arizona will now lead members of our greatest generation in the return to salute to the USS William P. Lawrence as she passes close aboard. Gentlemen, hand salute. Ready, two. World War II survivors and Pearl Harbor survivors carry on. Thank you, gentlemen. We’d like to thank our veterans, the USS William P. Lawrence, the Hawaii Air National Guard and the United States Air Force for participating in today’s ceremony. In the Hawaiian culture, the religious spiritual leader or advisor is known as a Kahu. Today we are pleased to have our invocation, a Hawaiian blessing, offered by Kahu Kamaki Kanahele assisted by Kahu Helen O’Connor, Kahu Kalani Shintani, Kahi Kyle Chang, Kahu Leilani Beniani, Kakoo Makani Tabura and Kakoo Edmond Nori.
And the ancient chant says you and I here in this place together as one many have come from over the great waves and over the great seas to be here and through the piercing beautiful air of Hawaii and have arrived. And so in this very sacred moment in time an ancient chant goes out announcing your arrival, your beginning and we start again in life. The chant is 300 years old.
Shall we pray.
Our wonderful and eternal Father in heaven first as it is the tradition of our people we humbly all come before you to me and to ask your forgiveness Heavenly Father if any of us here present in this beautiful setting have fallen short of our obligations to you please forgive us. I ask thy sacred blessings upon every single individual here, our brothers and sisters and families of all services and branches of the military and a very special blessing upon the heroes who are seated on the stage today for they are the past that have been the great heroes and symbols of our pride and dignity. In back of them are the heroes of our future and so it is Heavenly Father that as we translate ourselves into a greater nation still all we seek is a simple word called peace and health and strength for every one of our families. Guide and protect us and Heavenly Father as I close this beautiful prayer Mahalo for the beautiful day, how special it is to welcome so many of our Ohano family members from all over the world today on blue skies and blue heavens and blessings exceedingly. Humbly I say these things in my precious name, our men and amen.
Thank You Kahu. For the past 38 years the Japan Religious Committee for World Federation has offered a prayer for peace on this occasion. We’re honored to have them once again as part of this year’s ceremony. Reverend Fujita will offer the prayer followed by the English translation by Mr. Steven Silver.
Ladies and gentlemen Aloha.
78 years to the day from the attack on Pearl Harbor we gather here today to pay our respects to the souls of the countless men, women and children who lost their lives in the bitter conflict that once divided the great nations of the United States of America and Japan. Time marches inexorably onward, converting experience into memories and memories into historical archives, yet I, for one, remain convinced that the wisdom of mankind will prevail. In the 1940s, Japan and the United States experienced tragedy and suffering on a scale that defies the modern imagination. That we are able to gather here together and offer our respects as one voice is testament to the fact that although for a time we may be divided as adversaries, we will in time be united once again in our shared humanity. Yet ladies and gentlemen our world remains plagued by terrorism, conflict, poverty, environmental desecration, turning innocent people everywhere into victims of hardship, illness, displacement, death. As children of the one divine source let us offer a prayer for peace and mutual prosperity.
Thank you, mahalo.
May peace, genuine peace reign on earth, may all mankind find happiness. May all living creatures share the planet together in harmony and may the world be filled with compassion, love and light. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank You Reverend Fujita. Today’s National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day commemoration is co-hosted as it has been since 2005 by the National Park Service and the United States Navy. Here to share an official welcome on behalf of the National Park Service is Jacqueline Ashwell, Superintendent of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
Yes thank you. I was going to say that you could all be seated. Good morning everyone, aloha.
Among the dignitaries we welcome today and please do hold your applause until the end, the Honorable David Ige, Governor, state of Hawaii; the Honorable David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior; the Honorable Brian Schatz, US Senator; the Honorable Harry B. Harris, US Ambassador, Republic of Korea; Ms. Claire Connors, Attorney General, state of Hawaii; Admiral John Aquilino, Commander, US Pacific Fleet. General Charles Q. Brown Jr., Commander, Pacific Air Forces; General Yoshinari Marumo, Chief of Staff, Japan Air Self-Defense; Mrs. La Camara, spouse of General La Camara, Commanding General, US Army Pacific; General, Retired, Raymond E. Johns, Jr.; Lieutenant General Michael Minihan, Chief of Staff, US Indo-Pacific Command; the Honorable Kirk Caldwell, Mayor, of the City and County of Honolulu; the Honorable Mike Victorino, Mayor, Maui County; the Honorable Tatsunobu Isoda, Mayor of Nagaoka, Japan; Members of the Consular Corps; members of the Senior Executive Service and all other flag and general officers elected and appointed officials, business and community leaders. E komo ma, welcome.
I can sense the presence of this esteemed gathering of World War II veterans just behind me and of course today’s uniformed armed services as well. Traditionally we have had these gentlemen sit in the front rows where I’m able to make eye contact with you, exchange knowing glances with Mr. Lou Conter but I am happy this morning that you all will get to instead look upon their handsome faces. Gentlemen, thank you for your service to our country.
As we gather this morning to commemorate the 78th anniversary of the attack on Oahu, I am reminded of just what a year it has been at Pearl Harbor. I am deeply, deeply grateful this year for the unwavering support of the United States Navy. We were for the first time last year on the 77th commemoration, it was the first time that we were unable to go to the Arizona Memorial and pay our respects at the shrine room wall because we were doing repairs to the memorial and I want to say that every single time that the National Park Service asked for the support of the United States Navy, the Navy did everything that they could to help us. And together, we successfully implemented very challenging repairs on an ambitious timeline and it is clear to me that there has never been perhaps ever a time when our relationship has been stronger. Thank you.
I wish to take a brief moment to offer the condolences of the National Park Service to our Navy colleagues and to their families in the wake of the tragic events that unfolded earlier this week at the Pearl Harbor shipyard as well as the events yesterday in Florida. We are thinking of you. As each year passes, we lose more of our friends who served here on December 7th, 1941 or who witnessed the attack. Among those we remember are Lonnie Cook of the USS Arizona and his shipmate, Lauren Bruner, who will be laid to rest this evening within the Arizona. We also lost a few of our uncles this year so for those of you joining us from outside the state of Hawaii, uncles or aunties is a term of endearment that we use for our elders even if we’re not related by blood because we are related by community and this year we lost uncle Everett, Uncle Al, Uncle Jimmy. That is to say Everett Highland, Al Rodriguez and Jimmy Lee, all of whom volunteered here at the Visitor Center for decades sharing their stories, connecting with the public bringing the history alive in a way that is just impossible to replicate. We lost Uncle Jimmy just last week. He volunteered around 500 hours a year for 30 years and he provided a very unique perspective that was particularly relatable to children. Children often have a difficult time grasping what happened here at Pearl Harbor because they’re not old enough to know the horrors of war or to consider whether or not to serve their country in the US military. Jimmy didn’t fight at Pearl Harbor, he was an 11 year old boy living less than a mile from Battleship Row and he and his brothers watched the attack unfold. He also used to speak very poignantly about the loss of his best friend, Toshi Yamamoto. Toshi, who’s Japanese, disappeared along with his family and most of their possessions immediately after the attack and Jimmy looked for Toshi for years. He would write editorials to the paper on December 7th, go on television, everything, and he never reconnected with Toshi and so he was able to use these personal experiences to connect with youth, not only about the history but also about the value of friendship and how very precious it is. We’ll miss our uncles here at Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the diversity of perspectives that they brought both military and civilian. It’s very warm in the sun isn’t it? Yes. As I close my remarks this morning I would like to acknowledge two absolutely amazing women who I have come to count as friends during my brief time here at Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Adine Sato was one of our very first park rangers here and she has for some time worked for our valued partner, Pacific Historic Parks. She plans to retire later this month. Also Agnes Tauyan is the Director of Public Affairs for Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Service Group Midpack. She too has been here for decades and also plans to retire soon. Both of these women have a huge wide-ranging scope of duties but together they have been sort of the anonymous bedrock behind these commemorations for decades in their planning. I would go into detail about all the things they do or how many times just alone in the last 24 hours I have called both of them to ask questions or favors but we’d be here quite a while and they both eschew the limelight so I’m not going to ask them to stand or direct attention to them but if you know these two wonderful people, take a moment today if you see them to thank them for their years of service to our country and to preserving the story of what happened here on December 7th, 1941. It is now my pleasure to introduce…
We know that you’re both out there. It is now my pleasure to introduce Rear Admiral Robb Chadwick. He is a Surface Warfare Officer with numerous at-sea and shore assignments. As Commander Navy Region Hawaii he oversees installations on Oahu and Kauai, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Pacific Missile Range Barking Sands. As Commander Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific he provides oversight for surface ships homeported here in Hawaii and to me, he is a very valued colleague. Ladies and gentlemen, Robb Chadwick.
Well thank you Jacqueline and we certainly thank you the National Park Service and everyone who played a part in making this ceremony happen and our appreciation definitely goes beyond just today and certainly extends to the way your team here at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial brings the history of Pearl Harbor to life for over a million visitors a year so thank you again Jacqueline.
Now now one of my primary roles today is to provide a warm Aloha and welcome to our distinguished guests, all guests and really everyone who’s come here to take part in this important ceremony and Jacqueline obviously acknowledged the tragedy that happened earlier this week at our beloved shipyard and I can certainly convey that our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the victims and everyone affected but I should also highlight the amazing outpouring of love and support from the local community. We have definitely felt the sense of Ohana that has embraced the military community here for generations. And the generation we honor today is the one that has earned that title that you’ve already heard, the Greatest Generation and so our warmest welcome certainly goes to our Pearl Harbor Survivors and other World War II veterans and their families.
Today we obviously commemorate the tragic attack that occurred here at Pearl Harbor 78 years ago, but we also use this opportunity to honor and recognize the resilience and the grit of our nation and these veterans following the attack. And you know to the veterans behind me we owe a debt of gratitude that we can never truly repay. With this ceremony it’s an opportunity to recognize them and show our appreciation and to the veterans I will tell you that those of us who wear the uniform now certainly understand the gravity of the legacy that we inherited from the greatest generation and we strive every day to honor your service with our service. Well gentlemen you are a tough act to follow.
Now again, I’m here to welcome you but I also have the distinct honor to be able to introduce our next speaker, Ambassador Harry Harris. Ambassador Harris had a distinguished naval career in which he commanded at every level. His commands included Patrol Squadron 46, Patrol Reconnaissance Wing One, Joint Task Force Guantanamo and Commander US 6th Fleet, Striking Force NATO. At the Four Star level he commanded the US Pacific Fleet and from May 2015 to May 2018 he served as the commander of US Pacific Command now known as US Indo-Pacific Command. He is the first Asian American naval officer to achieve four-star rank and the first to lead US PACOM. I had the good fortune to serve with Ambassador Harris and his wife Bruni in one of his early flag tours at US Southern Command in Miami, Florida. It was clear then that he was destined for leadership at the highest levels. In fact I would say it’s more accurate to say it was clear that our Navy and nation needed him to lead at the highest levels and following his retirement, President Trump nominated him to be the US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea and he was confirmed by the Senate in 2018. Without any further ado ladies and gentlemen Ambassador Harry Harris.
Thanks Robb for that great introduction and for your leadership here at Navy Region Hawaii. A veteran’s past and present especially the World War II veterans and particularly Pearl Harbor Day survivors, distinguished guests and ladies and gentlemen, let me begin also by offering my condolences to the victims of the shooting at the shipyard here and in Pensacola earlier this week and my thanks to the first responders. So ladies and gentlemen good morning and aloha.
My wife Bruni and I are thrilled to be back in Hawaii here with you today albeit in a slightly different uniform as we pay tribute to our heroes and remember the Patriots who ran to the sound of the guns on that fateful day 78 years ago. Now I’m honored to speak briefly to set the stage literally before a true order Secretary Bernhard takes the podium to show you all how it’s done. But as we look out on this beautiful serene place it’s difficult to imagine the events of that sunny morning in 1941 when people not unlike us will waken up to enjoy another beautiful day in paradise. Indeed some of the veterans joining us today were probably thinking about going to chapel, spending the day on the beach, playing baseball, hanging out with friends or listening to the Battle of the Bands at Block Arena just across the way. The horrific events that took place here caught America, her Navy, her Army, her Air Corps, her Marines and the territory of Hawaii by surprise and it fell upon the shoulders of brave Americans like the Pearl Harbor Survivors and World War II veterans behind me to respond on that fateful day. Now it was a day of gallantry, an unquestionable heroism, even as it was a day of sacrifice and immeasurable loss. In less than two hours, there were over 2400 killed including firemen and first responders from the Honolulu Fire Department. Almost 1200 wounded. A majority of the US Pacific Fleet taken out of action. Catastrophic by any standard. Thinking back, I’m reminded of the stories that my father would tell me about his war experiences as an enlisted man stationed on board the Hawaii-based aircraft carrier USS Lexington, a carrier that departed Pearl Harbor just a few days before the attack. My dad, his four brothers and so many from the greatest generation are no longer with us but we can still hear their stories of duty, of honor and of courage. Their ghosts walk amongst us, their spirits speak to us, protect this house, this will defend. The fact that we are here today, citizens and friends of the greatest nation on earth, is a manifestation of the immeasurable debt that we owe all who served then and those who wear the cloth of our nation now both at home and abroad. The greatest generation played a pivotal role underwriting the freedoms that we enjoy today and I offer my salute and deepest gratitude to all of you for your commitment to our nation and for boldly defending America in her time of greatest need. Your actions serve as a lasting example to the generations that have followed you onto the battlefields in Korea, in Vietnam, in the Persian Gulf, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq and so many other foreign lands, as well as our men and women who continue to bravely pursue and engage our enemies today to keep America safe, to indeed protect this house. So ladies and gentlemen, every December 7th, we remember the past actions of our veterans on Oahu because they inspire us today and because they shape our tomorrows. America is the country she is because of young men and women who are willing to forego wearing a business suit forgoes strolling down Easy Street and forego living the good life. To wear instead the cloth of our nation to travel instead along an uncertain road fraught with peril. To live instead a life on the ragged edge of danger. To live lives that matter on the fundamental level. America is blessed beyond riches. Our nation is blessed to have a network of alliances and partnerships and to have strong men and women with exceptional courage who are willing and able to step forward to do whatever it takes to defend America whenever Lady Liberty finds herself in jeopardy. Now having served most of my Navy career here in the Pacific and now as the ambassador to Korea I see firsthand how important America’s alliances are to peace, prosperity and stability in the vast Indo-Pacific and beyond. Trust me, I know. To America’s World War II Patriots here with us this morning, because of you our country is both defined by her storied past and invigorated by her boundless future. We rise today to author that future emboldened by the intrepid service of those who came before us and carried onward. By those young men and women who serve as diplomats, as soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines today. May God bless our military men and women and diplomats past and present who stand the watch and answer when called. May God bless this beautiful state of Hawaii and may God bless the United States of America which has always been and forever shall be the land of the free and the home of the brave. Thank you very much and Mahalo.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce David L. Bernhardt, the 53rd United States Secretary of the Interior. But before I do so, let me tell you a little bit about the secretary, the Department of Interior and some of its accomplishments under the Secretary’s leadership. The Department of the Interior stewards 20 percent of our nation’s lands, oversees responsible energy development on federal lands and waters, maintains our national parks and historic sites, upholds trust responsibilities to Native communities and serves as the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states on the US mainland. Secretary Bernhardt is someone who is aware of the important relationship between the lands managed by the department and neighboring communities. Raised in Rifle, Colorado, a rural community surrounded by federal lands, Secretary Barnhart is a sportsman who grew up hunting, fishing and recreating on many of the lands that the department oversees. He has legal policy and administrative experience in the areas of natural resources, energy, multiple use, conservation and tribal matters with nearly a decade of service in senior level positions at the Department of Interior, including as solicitor and as deputy secretary. Under his leadership, Interior has reduced permitting timelines through the National Environmental Policy Act, expanded access to public lands, opening up over 1.4 million acres in 2019 alone, advanced American energy independence, bolstered the departmental ethics program, helped combat the scourge of opioid addiction in tribal communities and delivered over 3.7 billion dollars in regulatory relief since the beginning of the Trump administration. Here at Pearl Harbor, we have particularly appreciated the support of the department throughout a number of things, most recently the repairs to the USS Arizona Memorial and we are particularly grateful that the Secretary has agreed to come this morning and to share some of his personal family story related to December 7th 1941. And so with that, I am honored to introduce the United States Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt.
Good morning. Thank You Jacqueline for your introduction, admiral, ambassador, governor, other distinguished guests. Before I begin I too would like to take a moment to acknowledge the tragic shooting at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard this week, as well as in Pensacola. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and their communities at this time of loss and reflection. I am privileged to join you today in memorializing the lives lost here in the attack on Pearl Harbor and the airfields of Oahu. We also honor their survivors, both military and civilian and their fellow veterans, expressing our shared gratitude for their sacrifice and service throughout the war and beyond. As has been stated, many distinguished veterans of World War II are here today and their stories, their service and their bravery are a source of inspiration to civilians and soldiers alike. As Secretary of the Interior, I am proud to serve President Trump who is deeply committed to a safer America that honors our veterans and our servicemen and women and salutes our flag, a beacon of freedom around the world. The Department of the Interior has the stewardship responsibility of administering the Pearl Harbor National Memorial including the newly reopened USS Arizona Memorial through the Park Service. And in partnership as you’ve heard, in partnership with the United States Navy, the National Park Service has operated the USS Arizona Memorial since 1980, maintained the USS Oklahoma Memorial since 2007, and maintained the USS Utah Memorial since 2008. When all three memorials were incorporated into the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument that was done by presidential proclamation. This year the Pearl Harbor sites were established in law as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial within the John Dingell Jr. Conservation Management and Recreation Act which the President signed on March 12th. The purposes of the memorial are to preserve and interpret and commemorate for the benefit of present and future generations the history of World War II in the Pacific, from the events on December 7th, 1941, to the point of peace and reconciliation. This is among our nation’s most cherished memorials not just because of Pearl Harbor significance and symbolism in American history, and not merely because it serves as one of America’s principal war memorials, a special reverence is also due because it is the final resting place of so many of Americans and for that reason Pearl Harbor is truly sacred. To me the essence of Pearl Harbor lies in a relationship between fate and resolve. Fate was on the mind of Winston Churchill in addressing a joint session of Congress only two weeks after the attack. In a speech known by its most famous line now we are the masters of our own fate, Churchill referenced the long arm that reached out across the oceans to bring the United States into the forefront of a world war. That long arm tugged not only at these islands but on the hearts and the minds of the American people. Turning us into a nation that would answer a call and rescue civilization from the brink. We know that in the wake of the attacks like so many other points in American history, America would demonstrate a resolve and we would become a master of our own fate. Now this of course was gradual. The glimmers of victory, the theme of our gathering here today, came out of the ashes of December 7th, 1941. The Doolittle Raid, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway, the resolve shown by our armed forces in 1941 and 42 gave the American people a sliver of hope that our fate was not sealed. That in the case of Pearl Harbor past was not prologue and that the glimmers of victory had begun to emerge. We know too well that victory would come at a tremendous price. A price especially evident when one visits the World War II memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC. That memorial is also administered by the Park Service and the Department of the Interior, and that memorial tells the story of the sacrifice and unity of purpose of a nation. It tells the story of the vital roles played by America’s farmers and factory workers and the new roles women embraced in the war effort and of the reality, the reality that through the cost of the war, over 400,000 lives and a tremendous effort was required to achieve victory. In fact, a series of scenes carved in granite illustrates the defining aspects of the war and on the Pacific side, as on the left side as you walk into the memorial, the very first scene is of a family at home gathered around an old-fashioned radio receiving news of the attack that occurred here or perhaps listening to Eleanor Roosevelt’s brief address that came later this evening or maybe even President Franklin Roosevelt’s iconic address the next day. Each time I passed that scene, I have to catch my breath because it has great personal significance to me. Why would that be? Because each time I walk by that image I always have imagined my great grandfather and my grandfather, his brothers and sisters receiving the news of Pearl Harbor on the radio. To my mind that scene reflects the moment when my grandfather realized the potential peril of his younger brother who was serving aboard the USS Arizona at the time. His name was Samuel Bolender. As sometimes occurs in life we learn a fact or two that rejiggers our view of history and that recently happened to me. My mother and her cousin shared a few of my great uncle Sam’s letters home to his brother and sister-in-law. Through those letters, I discovered that my image of the radio was probably wrong. In all actuality it’s highly unlikely that my great-grandfather’s home even had electricity on this day 78 years ago. Imagine that for a moment. My kids cannot. At the same time, I learned more about Sam. In a letter dated November 20th, 1941, Sam is clear; he appreciates the sun, the sand and the waters that surround this beautiful place. How could he not? That said, he wished to be home at Thanksgiving. He was hopeful that he would be able to come home for Christmas in 1942 and he was really pleased to learn that a gal he had a crush on was still interested in him. And yet fate had it that he would never return to Colorado. The USS Arizona is his final resting place, joining the 2,390 servicemen and women and civilians who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor, including the 1,177 on the Arizona alone. The name Samuel Bolander is etched into the memorial it sets across the way and his memory is forever part of those 4,048 stars that commemorate America’s sacrifice for victory on the wall in Washington DC’s memorial. This is why today we express our gratitude for the nearly 40 veterans of every branch of our armed service who are gathered here today. Veterans like Lou Conter. Now Lou has been mentioned a couple times but let me tell you a few things about Lou if you don’t know. Born in Wisconsin in 1921, Lou completed his basic training in San Diego before reporting to duty aboard the USS Arizona on January 24th, 1940. I hope I got the date right. Lou was on watch during the initial attack at his post near the third turrent when the blast ignited one million pounds of ammunition in fuel, knocking him down the deck while other sailors were thrown overboard. Lou then quickly began putting out the flames covering the sailors and preventing others from jumping into the fire-filled waters. Standing knee-deep in water on the deck, Lou continued to help battle the blaze and retrieve sailors who had fallen overboard. After the order to abandon ship, Lou boarded a lifeboat lifting sailors from the water as they struggled to stay afloat. After the second attack on the ship, Lou tried his best to shoot down the enemy planes with machine guns and rifles. Lou spent the 10 days following the attack putting out fires and pulling fallen from the hole of the ship. Lou’s resolve not only in the face of the attack but in his over two decades of service is truly remarkable. Please join me in thanking Lou for his bravery. (audience applauding) The truth is Lou is not alone. The veterans of the attacks that gather on stage exemplify the resolve of America’s greatest generation as has been said and it is that resolve that allowed victory to ultimately shine through. Today one lasting legacy of Pearl Harbor is the lesson, the nearly two million annual visitors draw from visiting this memorial. A lesson of fate and of resolve. Of the endurance of American freedom. To keep that memory alive, and now our department works closely with the Pearl Harbor historic sites, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Memorial. The National Park Service and the Navy worked so closely together to conserve historic resources and serve the visiting public, all of this ensures that the memorial remains a collaborative effort that is most effective in honoring those who have served. It has been a privilege to be able to speak to you all today. Thank you for your dedication to preserving this memorial for the American people. God bless our veterans and all our servicemen and God bless the United States of America, thank you.
Thank you Mr. Secretary. This morning we will place wreaths to honor the territory of Hawaii, Army, the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard. The wreaths will be presented by active duty and National Park Service members and rangers. The wreaths you are about to see presented are expression of our gratitude and a symbol of our unending appreciation of service and sacrifice. Today we honor heroes, military and civilians, who lost their lives on December 7th, 1941. The wreaths you are about to see presented are an expression of our gratitude and the formation represents our past and present. It honors those who fought in the name of freedom 78 years ago and honors our veterans and current active-duty members who continue to serve our country with honor, courage and commitment. Today these wreaths also represent hope that our future generations may never forget the many sacrifices that make freedom possible. The bell you will hear is from the USS Arizona, one of two bells salvaged from the sunken ship. Commissioned in 1916, the Arizona was the second and last of the super dreadnought battleships. USS Arizona’s journey began in World War I but would end during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Now marking the final resting place of almost a thousand sailors and Marines, the USS Arizona Memorial honors all American service members killed on December 7th and stands in remembrance of all who were lost in World War II. The territory of Hawaii.
On that fateful morning 49 civilians lost their lives as a result of the attack. As a base for all of the military services the then territory of Hawaii and its citizens played a major role in one of history’s greatest salvage and repair efforts, quickly restoring most of the damaged ships and expediting their return to the fleet. Hawaii citizens opened their homes and businesses to servicemen stationed in the islands and continue to serve those returning from war patrols. Today the state of Hawaii remains a strategic and welcoming home port for our military continuing to offer aloha to all. Representing the territory of Hawaii is senior Airman Bronson Lee of the Hawaii Air National Guard and park maintenance worker Joseph Borja. Will all of our civilian survivors and witnesses please stand as able.
Civilian survivors and witnesses please be seated and thank you. The United States Army. (bell tolling) While many history books tend to focus on the Pearl Harbor attack, the brave members of the United States Army fought diligently to defend their posts on December 7th, 1941. From Schofield Barracks to Bellows Airfield, the US Army had and continues to have a large presence on Oahu. Representing the United States Army is Staff Sergeant Armando Borrero and security guard and army cavalry veteran Mike Barron. Will all of our Army veterans, both past and present please stand as able.
Army veterans please be seated, thank you. The United States Marine Corps.
Many may not realize until visiting the USS Arizona Memorial that a United States Marine detachment made up part of each battleship’s crew. A total of 109 Marines lost their lives that day. 105 perished aboard ships in Pearl Harbor and four were killed in action at the Eva Mooring Mass Field. Representing the United States Marine Corps is Lance Corporal Jarriel Nunez and park guide and Marine Corps veteran, Phil Lingenfelter. Will all of our Marine Corps veterans both past and present please stand as able.
Oorah. Marine Corps veterans please be seated. The United States Navy.
1,999 sailors lost their lives in the December 7th attacks on Pearl Harbor and Naval Air Station Kaneohe. Many sailors made their final resting place in the waters directly behind me while defending their ships and helping their shipmates escape the burning waters. Many more were assisted in rescue and recovery efforts in the days and weeks that followed. Representing the United States Navy is Petty Officer First Class Caleb Branum and his father, park security guard and Navy veteran, Mr. Celdam Branum.
Will all of our Navy veterans both past and present please stand as able.
Anchors away. Thank you, Navy veterans, please be seated. Though not yet a service in 1941, the United States Air Force was formally referred to as our Army Air Forces and here on Oahu as the Hawaiian Air Force. On December 7th, Lieutenants Ken Taylor and George Welch scrambled to their aircraft park at Haleiwa Field and took off to brave the skies against incredible odds. Representing the United States Air Force is Pacific Historic parks employee and Hawaii Air National Guard Airman First Class Emerson Adams and Park Guide and Air Force veteran Jason Oakrasa. Will all of our Air Force veterans both past and present please stand as able.
All right. Air Force veterans please be seated. The United States Coast Guard. (bell tolling) At the time of the attack, US Coast Guard vessels in Hawaii were all stationed in Honolulu. At 0645 the patrol craft Tiger intercepted a dispatch from USS Ward that claimed destruction of the submarine. Later Tiger itself came under enemy fire as it participated in the defense of Oahu. Representing the United States Coast Guard is Petty Officer Scott Whited and National Park Service maintenance worker and combat veteran William Lewis Akima III. Will all of our Coast Guard veterans both past and present please stand as able.
Thank You Coast Guard veterans, please be seated. Wreath presenters thank you. At this time we would like to recognize all Pearl Harbor survivors, World War II veterans and all of those who lived through the attack on December 7th, 1941. On that day and in the years that followed you superbly executed your duties at your post and weathered the storm of war and is because of you and others like you that we enjoy freedom and liberty in this great country today. Will the guests please stand and join me in expressing our appreciation. A grateful nation applauds all of you today.
Give it up for these guys.
[Audience Member] Here here!
Thank you. A vintage 1940s Globe Swift aircraft will soon fly overhead. With its sleek lines and retractable landing gear, the aircraft was the economical civilian counterpart to the fighter aircraft that pilots flew during World War II. It shares many common features with the US Army Air Forces P40 fighter and we’d like to thank Commander Bruce Mays of the United States Coast Guard, retired, and the vintage aviation for providing this vintage aircraft tribute. Please remain standing as able… Please stand (audience laughing) for the benediction Marine Corps rifle salute and echo taps by the Pacific Fleet Band. Captain Steven Lee, chaplain, Marine Forces Pacific will now offer the benediction.
Peace be with you. Please join me in the benediction, let us pray. Eternal God, strong to save and swift to hear the faintest of prayers, for our honorable guests men and women of valor and all peoples gathered we humbly give our thanks and ask for your hand of protection and grace to always be upon them. We have tasted together only a glimmer of the great conflict and of all the endeavors, self-sacrifice required to stand fast and stand victorious in the face of tyranny on this 78th Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. For the men and women who faithfully stood the watch on 7 December 1941, until victory was declared and for all those who perished on our nation’s behalf, we are eternally grateful. Eternal God who tames the roaring seas as we depart may you bless us, friends, partners, allies, shipmates all and strengthen our resolve to honor our heritage given to us at greatest cost and still our hearts and minds so that as long as life is ours that we shall never forget and forever endeavor to honor and protect and sustain the great virtues, principles and the sheer grit required to be the land of the free and to bear the beacon of the freedom in a troubled world. We go now in God’s peace. May he bless you and watch over you, amen.
Thank You chaplain. Stand by for rifle salute. Hand salute.
Ready, two. Sideboys post.
On behalf of the National Park Service, the United States Navy, thank you for attending today’s special observance of the 78th anniversary of the attack on Oahu and remembering the sacrifices made by those served here on December 7th 1941. To those who are watching our ceremony through our online broadcast, we extend our sincere aloha. This ceremony would not have been possible today without the critical assistance of Pacific Historic Parks, the Sea Cadets, local Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps units and the Defense Media Activity. Thank you. Please remain standing for the departure of the official party and our honored guests. Following the departure of the official party we invite our Pearl Harbor Survivors and World War II veterans to participate in the Walk of Honor. More on that momentarily.
The Honorable David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior, departing.
The Honorable Harry Harris, Ambassador of the United States, departing.
Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, departing.
Ms. Jacqueline Ashwell, Superintendent, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, National Park Service, departing. Service members from all branches will now salute survivors and World War II veterans as they participate in the Walk of Honor tribute. We ask the general audience to please remain in your seats for a few moments as our most honored guests, our Pearl Harbor survivors and our World War II veterans and all of those who lived through the attack on December 7th, 1941, both military and civilian, depart. Veterans and their families and caregivers please make your way to the front of the stage toward the honor cordon at this time. Right over here off this ramp gentlemen. Active-duty service members and family, if you want to line the walkway here to my right, family members you’re welcome to join your veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors. Thank you to all of our guests on this walkway for keeping that clear for our veterans and World War II survivors. Thank you to everyone. Please enjoy patriotic songs performed by the United States Pacific Fleet Band as you depart today.
[Man] Good job.
[Jay] Tugboats from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will be in the harbor conducting a water tribute. This concludes our ceremony. Thank you I have a wonderful day.