PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The National Park Service and the U.S. Navy announced plans Nov. 1 to host a joint memorial ceremony at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, looking directly out to the USS Arizona Memorial.
The ceremony, to start at 7:45 a.m. Dec. 7, will commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
This year's keynote speaker will be Max Cleland, secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission. A former U.S. senator and the youngest-ever administrator of the U.S. Veterans Administration, Cleland has been a distinguished public servant for nearly 50 years.
In 1967, Cleland joined the armed forces where he served in the Vietnam War as a battalion signal officer. In 1968, as an Army captain, Cleland was seriously wounded in combat and received both the Bronze Star for meritorious service and the Silver Star for gallantry in action.
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., who assumed duties as Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Oct. 16, is also scheduled to speak. As commander of Pacific Fleet, Harris is responsible for 100 million square miles in which commerce worth trillions of dollars is transported each year. Today, U.S. Pacific Fleet leads America's rebalance to the Pacific.
This year's Dec. 7 ceremony will be co-hosted by Paul DePrey, superintendent of the National Park Service, WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, and Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.
More than 2,500 distinguished guests and the general public are expected to join current and former military personnel, including Pearl Harbor survivors and other WWII veterans, for the annual observance of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
"Our Pearl Harbor Survivors were young men 72 years ago when they experienced the attack on Oahu. Many were teenagers," Williams said.
"The attack launched our country into World War II, and most of the young Pearl Harbor Survivors, went on to fight in that war. They fought across the Pacific - leading the Battle of Midway from here in Pearl Harbor; fighting a bloody and brutal Guadalcanal Campaign; and hitting beaches, enemy ships and island strongholds with everything we had - from the winter of 1941/42 through the summer of 1945," Williams noted.
The Pearl Harbor Day ceremony commemorates both the attack and America's ultimate victory in the Second World War.
The theme of this year's historic commemoration, "Sound the Alarm," examines how thousands of Americans answered a call to duty in the wake of the attack. "Sound the Alarm" also explores how the nation was unified through communication in 1941 and throughout the war but shows how slow or incomplete information was, especially in the early days and weeks of the war.
Today, in an era of instant communication and social media, connections can be made in real time. In conjunction with this year's theme and to connect Pearl Harbor survivors across the U.S. with the commemoration ceremony taking place at Pearl Harbor, NPS is partnering with Veterans United to host an interactive broadcast via wireless streaming.
Sites across the U.S. will include the United States Navy Memorial Museum (Washington, DC); Great Lakes Naval Museum (Chicago, Ill.); Rosie the Riveter National Historic Site (Oakland, Calif.); Arizona State Museum (Phoenix, Ariz.); and the National WWII Museum (New Orleans, La.).
Prior to the start of the ceremony, Pearl Harbor survivors and WWII veterans will be able to interact with one another via new media, and those who are unable to attend the ceremony on Oahu will be able to view the event in their hometown as it takes place.
Highlights of the ceremony will include music by the Navy's U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, morning colors, a Hawaiian blessing, a rifle salute by members of the U.S. Navy, wreath presentations, echo taps and recognition of the men and women who survived the attack of Dec.7, 1941 and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
At 7:55 a.m., the exact moment the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began 70 years ago, a moment of silence will be observed. A guided-missile destroyer will render honors to the USS Arizona, and a flyover will be conducted above Pearl Harbor.
The ceremony will conclude with a "walk of honor" by Pearl Harbor survivors and other WWII Veterans through an honor cordon of military service members and National Park Service men and women.
In addition, a series of special events recognizing the 72nd anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, will be open to the public Nov. 29 through Dec. 7.
For more information, visit www.pearlharborevents.com.
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrh/.