Pearl Harbor Commemoration Includes Menchville Band Students

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and in Hawaii the attack is being commemorated with a day-long series of events, including a mass band performance from noon to 1 p.m. at the Battleship Missouri Memorial.  Forty-eight Menchville Monarch band members are in Hawaii to participate in this performance.  The event will be lived streamed here beginning at 5:00 our time.

On December 7, 1941 Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  This attack brought the United States into World War II.  The United States relations with Japan had been tense but when President Roosevelt froze Japanese assets in the U.S. and placed an embargo on oil exports to Japan in response to Japan’s attempts to expand their influence, Japan began planning the attack.

Japan’s surprise attack began in the early morning hours of December 7th.   There were 96 ships anchored at Pearl Harbor and over 400 aircraft on the ground at Hickham, Wheeler and Bellow airfields.  The two U.S. aircraft carriers, the Lexington and the Enterprise, were at sea.

The attack lasted about 2 hours.  Eighteen ships were damaged or destroyed, 320 airplanes were shattered and 2,335 men were killed and 1000 were wounded.

Then on December 8, 1941 U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stood before congress and gave his famous “Day of Infamy” speech, asking congress to declare war on Japan.

Many kids today may feel that the attack on Pearl Harbor is too far in the past to connect to.  But 60 years later, the United States again came under a surprise attack – on September 11, 2001 and the same shock, anger and disbelief that people felt in 1941 were experienced by a new generation of Americans.

Many of our parents can tell us exactly where they were and what they were doing on 9/11.  Junior Kylie Becker was too young to remember that day, but her family was here in Newport News, Virginia. Kylie does not remember exactly what she was doing, but she knows what her mother was doing. “She was at work when she heard the news,” she said.  Her mother left work came and got her from daycare and went home and just rocked her in her arms saying “It is going to be alright baby.”

Although these two events were 60 years apart, the second connects a younger generation to the first through the shared reactions to an attack on our country.   What people learned in 1941 and what we learned again in 2001, is that America will always bounce back and become better than what we were.