PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Members of the National Park Service (NPS) and Pearl Harbor Survivors Association kicked off Pearl Harbor Fourth of July festivities at the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center with the annual "Let Freedom Ring" bell ringing event.
During the event, 13 people, including several Pearl Harbor survivors, NPS members and military service members, rang a bell for each of the 13 original states signifying independence.
"It's always important for me to honor my shipmates that gave their lives. Four hundred twenty nine on the Oklahoma gave their lives, and I'm always honored to come to the memorial," said George Brown, a surviving crewmember of the battleship USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor attack.
Daniel Martinez, an NPS historian at USS Arizona Memorial Visitors Center, conducted the observance.
"Today is the day that we want people to pause and reflect on those sacrifices that were made over the centuries to keep America alive," said Martinez. "Today is that moment where we think about that and we let them pause and reflect on the importance of the ship's bell, what the ship's bell means and to have all of these veterans and National Park Service employee's ring those bells in celebration of that freedom. I can't think of a more appropriate thing to happen."
After the ceremony, visitors at the center met with some of the Pearl Harbor survivors who gave their accounts of the December 7 attacks.
"Let Freedom Ring" is a national event introduced by the U.S. Congress in 1963 asking that ceremonial bells be rung 13 times all across the country at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in honor of the patriots of the original 13 states who helped secure our liberty.
The Arizona Memorial Visitor's Center has held this event for the past eight years using one of the bells recovered from the battleship USS Arizona (BB 39).
The "Let Freedom Ring," event has grown exponentially since its inception by Congress in 1963. Originally held at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, it has since grown to include more than 800 satellite ceremonies throughout the country, including all U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine ships.
For more information on, "Let Freedom Ring," visit their website at www.let-freedom-ring.org.
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrh/.