Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor 70 Years Later

70th Anniversary of 
Pearl Harbor Attack

"December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The attack caught America by surprise, killing 2,400 Americans, sinking 12 ships and destroying 188 aircraft -- and triggering U.S. entry into World War II. In fact, the U.S. declared war on Japan the following day when FDR made the above quote.

Seventy years ago today, at precisely the moment that I started this column, the United States was drawn into World War II when Pearl Harbor was attacked. While this was before I was born, it is still a date that is impossible for me to forget.

Ceremonies mark the anniversary today.  Among those will be a special tribute to the battleship Arizona, which exploded and sank during the attack, killing more than 1,100 officers and servicemen aboard. The ship's hull remains at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, marked by the USS Arizona Memorial overhead.

These pictures were taken during a visit to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial during a cruise vacation to Hawaii. The background of this image is the oil slick which still rises to the surface of the water around the memorial.

These images remain in my mind several years after our visit. We were so moved by our visit, we went back the next day for a second visit. 

Out of respect to the Sailors and Marines entombed below, visitors are asked to remain silent during their visit. The silence adds to the eerie atmosphere at the memorial.

I am often asked what is my favorite or memorial cruise vacation. As I have always said, that is a very difficult question to answer. Every cruise vacation has one or more memorable moments. The visit to Pearl Harbor definitely ranks among those memorable moments for me along with our visit to the Normandy beaches.

Cruise vacations to Hawaii, often start or end in Honolulu, Oahu. I would encourage you to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial during your visit there. It is even more moving when you visit on or around December 7th.

For more information about U.S.S. Arizona Memorial and today's events, see the National Park Service website.

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