The United States marked the 79th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Monday with a live virtual ceremony in Hawaii during the pandemic.
Military members wore face masks, socially distanced and a virtual audience of veterans of Pearl Harbor and World War II survivors tuned in for the ceremony held in honor of those who lost their lives on Dec. 7, 1941, when more than 2,300 U.S. troops were killed. (RELATED: Only Five USS Arizona Survivors Are Still Living — But None Can Attend Memorial Services This Year)
The annual National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony was scaled back this year, as veterans couldn’t be present in Hawaii to honor those who fought and died that day due to the coronavirus pandemic. (RELATED: Watching ‘Band Of Brothers‘ Never Gets Old. Here’s Why It’s Such A Great Series)
Military members of all branches who lost their lives were honored with a moment of silence held at 7:55 a.m. as the USS Arizona battleship bell rang out to mark the time. It was followed by a missing man flyover formation by F-22 Raptors.
In a pre-recorded video, one Pearl Harbor veteran and survivor who lives in California spoke about that fateful day as black-and-white images of those who fought played in the background. This clip shows at the 25-minute mark in the video.
The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. John Aquilino took the podium and talked about the Japanese “surprise” attack that day and how the fighting spirit still lives in all those who fight for our country, 79 years later. He noted that even during the pandemic, soldiers continue across the globe to train. His speech begins at the 44-minute mark in the video.
“I think what we see today here is the resolve, despite a pandemic, for us to be able to pay our respects, and thank the greatest generation,” Aquilino said. “It also is a reminder to all that nothing will stop us.”
He then pointed out a story of one of the many who went “above and beyond” for their fellow soldiers, Doris Miller, a mess attendant on the USS West Virginia.
He said Miller not only carried his “several shipmates who were wounded to safety” but would return after that and man a 50-caliber gun returning fire on planes until “he ran out of ammunition.” Miller continued to pull wounded sailors to safety despite “an order to abandon ship,” he added.
During the ceremony, they took time to recognize not only the heroes but the sacrifices families have given throughout the country.