Editor’s note: Pearl Harbor Day is a day of remembrance during which we often hear from historians, veterans and Navy leadership about the importance of honoring our past and how this day of infamy inspires our future. But what do today’s Sailors, the young women and men wearing the cloth of the nation, ready to go in harm’s way, think? What does Pearl Harbor mean to them? In their own words, four Sailors shared their unique answers during a commemoration ceremony at the Pentagon on December 6, 2016. We thought their remarks were important and wanted to share them here.
Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Castro
“Pearl Harbor isn’t just a day to remember and honor the past. It’s a reminder of why Navy heritage is deliberately passed into the hands of the next generation.”
In the Navy there are two ceremonies that we hold annually and have become traditions. In October, we observe the Navy’s birthday to celebrate its establishment by the Continental
Congress on October 13, 1775, and in June, we pause to acknowledge a moment in modern history where our predecessors proved to the nation that its faith and trust in our Navy was and still is worthwhile at the Battle of Midway. But this year, being the 75th anniversary, it’s appropriate to add a day of ceremony to our schedules. We should gather to reflect on the significance of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and those who served during this crucial time for our nation. We should honor the hero’s and veterans of Pearl Harbor and World War II who sacrificed, who paved the way for our Navy to evolve into the remarkable force of Sea Power that I serve in today.
But Pearl Harbor isn’t just a day to remember and honor the past. It’s a reminder of why Navy heritage is deliberately passed into the hands of the next generation. Pearl Harbor was an attack… our shipmates were caught by surprise in the wee hours of the morning. This reason, this attack, this day gives credence to the training we do today. Pearl Harbor answers the “why” in how we train to stand the watch. It teaches Sailors of today the importance of standing ready to answer the call. We do more than remember this day, we study it, we learn from it and we are stronger TODAY because of this day 75 years ago. It’s in that growth that we truly honor our Pearl Harbor shipmates.
Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Pean
“…it reminds me of the oath I took to defend the United States …”
December 7, 1941, the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack, was one of the most profound and defining moments in American history. That morning showed that even in the most difficult moments, and in the face of adversity, American Sailors would show their resilience. That’s the Navy I joined. That’s what I wanted to be a part of. I’m glad to commemorate today because it reminds me of the oath I took to defend the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. That oath became very real 75 years ago.
Petty Officer 1st Class Shellyann Stephens
“I think more attention should be placed on remembering the response. “
Remembering the attack is important, and something we should do as Sailors and as a nation. But I think more attention should be placed on remembering the response. President Roosevelt wasted no time in addressing Congress and the nation, calling December 7, 1941 a date that would live in infamy. On December 8, 1941, as our ships in Pearl Harbor still steamed with the bruises from the attack, President Roosevelt signed the Declaration of War against Japan. Thousands of Americans pledged to sign up for the Armed Forces within days of the attack. “Remember Pearl Harbor!” became the rallying cry of the war. As a Navy we showed the world our grit. It’s that sentiment, established after the attack and refined throughout World War II that has led to the toughness, accountability, integrity and initiative I’m taught as a Sailor in today’s Navy.
Petty Officer 1st Class Antar Abdullah
“…the image of a sunken USS Arizona symbolizes the day the United States’ safety and security no longer stood behind two oceans. “
75 years later, “Pearl Harbor” still reverberates throughout history. It’s a mainstay in our culture of service. For me, the image of a sunken USS Arizona symbolizes the day the United States’ safety and security no longer stood behind two oceans. Many conflicts have arisen since, but through our remembrance, we are reminded to:
Pearl Harbor and our Navy rose from the ashes of this catastrophic attack and evolved into the world wide force it is today. That image, that’s what Pearl Harbor means to me.
Want to find more about the attack on Pearl Harbor? Click here.