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Visting the memorial over the Battleship USS Arizona, submerged in Pearl Harbor, is a solemn experience. You take a boat to the site. You stare out over the white memorial framework down at the rusting shape of the ship below, sunk on December 7, 1941, the day the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked our forces at Pearl Harbor and other locations in Hawaii. The peaceful silence is in stark contrast to what must have been the horror of that day. You watch, as tiny beads of oil bubble to the surface, the fuel tanks still leaking after 80 years as if signaling us not to forget the men who lie below.

Service members salute the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Courtesy photo.

The  Sunday morning attack caught a sleeping U.S. Navy at anchor, by surprise, taking the lives of 2,403 service members and civilians and leading the United States to declare its entrance into World War II.  It was a day that still lives in infamy 80 years later.

“As we mark National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor the patriots who perished, commemorate the valor of all those who defended our Nation, and recommit ourselves to carrying forth the ensuing peace and reconciliation that brought a better future for our world,” read President Joe Biden’s proclamation this morning. “Today, we give thanks to the Greatest Generation, who guided our Nation through some of our darkest moments and laid the foundations of an international system that has transformed former adversaries into allies.”

It continued:

“A decade ago, I paid my respects at the USS Arizona Memorial — where 1,177 crewmen lost their lives on that terrible December day,” continues the President’s message. “To this day, beads of oil still rise to the surface of the water — metaphorical “Black Tears” shed for those lost in the attack.  Reading those names etched in marble was a mournful reminder of the sacrifices and the human cost of protecting our Nation and the ideals this great country represents.  Our Nation remains forever indebted to all those who gave their last full measure of devotion eight decades ago.  We will never forget those who perished, and we will always honor our sacred obligation to care for our service members, veterans, and their families, caregivers, and survivors.

The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”

 NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2021, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.  I encourage all Americans to reflect on the courage shown by our brave warriors that day and remember their sacrifices.  I ask us all to give sincere thanks and appreciation to the survivors of that unthinkable day.  I urge all Federal agencies, interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff on December 7, 2021, in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.”

Some generations get more than their share of challenges. The generation that was alive that day is slipping away.  We are three generations past those who lived this fateful day. More than ever, while Dec. 7 is history, it must also be remembered.