PEARL HARBOR –
Veterans, service members, families and guests commemorated Pearl Harbor Day with multiple ceremonies at Ford Island and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Dec. 7.
The theme of this year's historic commemorations, "Preserving the Memory," focused on keeping the story of the attacks on Oahu and the beginning of World War II for the United States alive for new generations and the nation.
The day's events began at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Pearl Harbor Visitor Center with the 73rd annual commemoration ceremony dedicated to the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, provided opening remarks and introduced U.S. Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson, commander, Pacific Air Forces, who served as a keynote speaker for the event, which overlooked the historic USS Arizona Memorial.
"For the last 73 years here in the Pacific, we've remembered Pearl Harbor," said Harris. "We've remained vigilant and just as the "Greatest Generation" before us, today's armed forces are more than ready to answer the alarm and, if need be, we're ready to fight tonight and win.
"We are doing everything we can to keep the alarm from sounding in the first place by enacting America's current strategic rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, designed to maintain stability, prosperity and peace throughout the region," Harris said.
He praised Robinson's leadership and professional skills, intellect and mastery, which helped her excel and set the highest standards, achieving numerous records in her military career.
Robinson, who took command of Pacific Air Forces, Oct. 16, from Gen. "Hawk" Carlisle, expressed her emotions of sharing this historic day with all of the survivors and veterans.
"For me, it is difficult to imagine the events of that Sunday morning 73 years ago," said Robinson. "Even as it was a day of sacrifice and loss, it was a day of gallantry and unquestionable heroism.
"Countless brave Americans, like many of those here in the front row, not only rallied in response to the attacks, but fought intrepidly in the many years of war that followed," she said.
Robinson also spoke of the sacrifices faced not only by the military but also by firefighters, civilians, families and children on the day of the attacks and the courage and heroism they showed in the face of tragedy. That courage serves as a lesson and motivation for the armed forces today, she noted.
"As our nation rebalances to the Asia-Pacific region, I assure you the current generation of American warriors stands ready," said Robinson. "May God bless you and all of our military and civil servicemen and women, both past and present, who have bravely answered our nation's call time and time again, and who have never failed us."
During the ceremony, a moment of silence was observed at 7:55 a.m., the exact moment the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began 73 years ago. Guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) rendered pass-in-review honors to the USS Arizona and all Pearl Harbor survivors present at the ceremony.
The 199th Fighter Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard, 19th Fighter Squadron, U.S. Air Force, also presented an F-22 Raptor flyover.
The ceremony was co-hosted by Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, and Paul DePrey, superintendent of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, National Park Service.
The event also included musical accompaniment provided by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, the parading of colors, a traditional Hawaiian blessing, and a cannon salute by members of the U.S. Army.
Additionally, veterans of each military branch presented a floral wreath for each service, each accompanied by an active-duty service member and a student from Navy Hale Keiki School, in recognition of the men and women who survived the attack and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, Dec. 7, 1941.
The ceremony concluded with a "Walk of Honor" by the Pearl Harbor survivors attending the ceremony and other World War II veterans through an honor cordon of military service members and National Park Service men and women.