Military officials, veterans, and members of the public gathered at the Charlestown Navy Yard on Thursday to remember those who perished in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 82 years ago.
Over 100 people got together in a small room in the USS Constitution Museum to start the three-part remembrance program recalling the surprise Japanese attack on the US Naval base in Hawaii that killed 2,403 people, injured an additional 1,178 and propelled the US into World War II.
“There is one responsibility, and I hold in the highest regard, and that is to not forget the past but to remember it, and more importantly to honor that legacy of service and sacrifice,” Jon Santiago, the state’s secretary of Veterans Services said in his remarks.
At 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise, unprovoked attack on the US Pacific Fleet. More than 150 aircraft were destroyed, another 150 were damaged, and three ships sunk — with another 16 damaged.
In his keynote address, US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro highlighted the significance of Pearl Harbor and its impact on the challenges America faces.
“That fateful Sunday morning would change the world, thrusting the United States into a global conflict that would reshape the very course of history,” he said.
Jamey Harding, who was stationed at the Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii, came from Bloomsburg, Pa., to honor the sacrifice of the sailors at Pearl Harbor that morning.
“The program was so meaningful,” Harding said while wiping away tears.
Harding added that Del Toro speaking “meant the world to him.”
After speeches at the USS Constitution Museum the group went to the USS Cassin Young for a wreath-laying and moment of silence.
Dawn Moore, whose daughter is serving in the Navy, said that if such important days in history are not commemorated every year, they begin to fade from memory. She doesn’t want that to happen in the case of Pearl Harbor.
“Things like this help you remember and honor the past because you don’t remember all the things,” Moore said.
Even though the attack happened 82 years ago, Santiago said, that morning is still a “moment frozen in time,” and the consequences of that attack are still felt today. He said most importantly, the lives lost should have “a legacy of hope.”
“Because, to me, hope is about the future,” he said. “It’s about ensuring that these stories of bravery are not confined to the past, and so as a guiding light to the future.”