PEARL HARBOR >> Thousands gathered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Kilo Piers Dec. 7 to witness the 75th Commemoration Event of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.
The ceremony set to honor those who lost their lives during the attacks on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, included a moment of silence, a pass-in-review of the guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97), a “Missing Man” flyover formation and wreath presentations for each branch of the armed forces.
After the presentation of colors and national anthem by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, speakers Kahu Kamaki Kanahele and Kahu Herbert Hew Len performed a Hawaiian blessing. This was followed by a prayer for peace given by Reverend Tsunekiyo Tanaka, a member of the Japan Religious Committee for World Federation.
Rear Adm. John V. Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, spoke directly to the World War II veterans, thanking them for the sacrifices they made in the past, which helped create a strong partnership with Japan.
“Those of you that served in World War II, ushered in a great era of peace and prosperity that we’ve enjoyed for decades. You did that with your blood, your sweat and your tears,” said Fuller. “You earned our commitment to always remember Pearl Harbor. Your life changed the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, and after that day you changed the world forever.”
Keynote speaker, Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., commander, U.S. Pacific Command, emphasized the dedication and courage our World War II veterans showed.
“For those who gave their last full measure of devotion for their nation that day we feel a deep sense of sorrow,” said Harris. “Yet we are also inspired by their great gift to the world, the gift of freedom itself.”
The ceremony ended with a rifle salute performed by a U.S. Marine Corps rifle detail, the playing of Echo Taps by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band and a vintage 1940s Globe Swift plane fly-by.
As the Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans left the ceremony, dozens of present-day service members lined the exit to create a “Walk of Honor,” issuing a hand salute as they walked through.