Honoring Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Pearl Harbor commemoration ceremony on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day featuring a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day takes place on December 7. It was made a national holiday in the United States in 1994 to commemorate the thousands of people who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On this day, many in the U.S. and even other places around the world honor those who served at Pearl Harbor and in World War II. Whether you have ancestors who served in the war or would just like to observe this holiday, read on for remembrance ideas and to learn more about this historic event.

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What Happened on Pearl Harbor Day?

On 7 December 1941, Japanese fighter planes led a surprise air raid on Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base in Honolulu, Hawaii. Over 2,400 U.S. citizens died (civilians and soldiers alike), and more than 1,000 were injured. The attack also damaged or destroyed 8 battleships, 13 navy ships, and over 300 aircraft. 

To learn more about the events of Pearl Harbor Day, consider these helpful resources.

Learn more about the events of Pearl Harbor and what happened that day on History.com.
The Pearl Harbor Historic Sites website includes all the information you need to visit Pearl Harbor memorials and museums.
Explore an infographic and time line of the events of December 7 on Britannica.com.

Why Is It Important to Remember Pearl Harbor Day?

The attack on Pearl Harbor undeniably altered world history. After the events of World War I, people in the United States strongly opposed fighting in another big war so soon. Thus, throughout the early years of World War II, the U.S. was reluctant to join. The attack on Pearl Harbor was the catalyst that finally led to U.S. involvement in World War II. Canada followed, joining the Allied forces.

The attack is also considered the most devastating to take place on U.S. soil. It was a significant event in history and for the people who lived through it, making it well worth remembering today.

A bird's eye view of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day commemorates the thousands of lives lost that day in 1941 as well as the sacrifices U.S. soldiers and their families made for years during World War II. Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day offers a chance to reflect on and honor the people who fought for their country and the people at home who supported them. 

How Can You Observe Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day?

There are many ways to honor and observe Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, but the most important thing is to find a way to be respectful and make it meaningful to you. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Interview a vet. Record the story of someone who lived through or fought in World War II. It will give you a chance to hear those experiences as well as preserve them for future generations. 
  2. Visit a memorial. If you have the opportunity, visit Pearl Harbor. You can also attend local memorials or gravesites if Hawaii isn’t a feasible location to visit. 
  3. Display a flag. The U.S. flag holds a lot of symbolism. It shows pride for your country and represents the soldiers who fight for it. 
U.S. flags displayed outside the Missouri Warship Memorial in Hawaii for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

  1. Learn about the people who were there. Search records of the people who served at Pearl Harbor. This could be particularly impactful if you have family members who were there or who served in World War II. 
  2. Explore people’s stories and photos. Dive into the memories of people who lived through Pearl Harbor on FamilySearch Memories. Create a free account on FamilySearch to read firsthand stories and see photos of the people who experienced it. 
  3. Participate online. Every year, memorials are held for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Search online for ways to participate through news sources, social media, and more. You can also watch past commemoration ceremonies at Pearl Harbor memorials here.  

Do you have a family member who was alive during the attack on Pearl Harbor? You can find where your family members were on Pearl Harbor Day by clicking the button below and logging into your free FamilySearch account.

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