America will always remember the “day that will live in infamy” 76 years ago today, December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The bombings claimed over 2000 lives and led to the United States entering WWII. While most of us know what happened that fateful day and honor its significance, there are details of the attack that still shock and surprise us all these years later.
Here are some facts you may not know about Pearl Harbor.
1. An Entire Military Band Perished
The attack on Pearl Harbor marks the only time in American History that an entire military band has been killed in action. U.S. Navy Band Unit 22, comprised of 21 talented musicians, was aboard the deck of the USS Arizona preparing to play during the daily flag raising ceremony. Though the musicians surely scrambled to get to their posts and defend the ship against the attack, she was hit 4 times by Japanese missiles. Over half of the casualties of the bombing, 1777 souls, were lost on the USS Arizona that day.
2. The USS Arizona Still Leaks Fuel
After 76 years, the USS Arizona still leaks 9 quarts of fuel a day, according to The History Channel. On December 6th, the day before the attack, the ship was fully loaded with fuel in anticipation of a trip to the mainland it was scheduled to take later in the month. Though much of the fuel stoked the fires and explosions that led to the demise of the ship and much of its crew, the payload onboard was so great that it still leaks, serving as a daily reminder of the tragedy.
3. Japanese Tourists Visit Pearl Harbor to Pay Their Respects
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Honolulu in 2016, where he joined President Obama to offer his condolences for the lives lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Each year, many Japanese tourists also visit the site of the attack to learn about the past of their country and educate themselves about the historical events of WWII.
4. Survivors of the USS Arizona Can Be Laid to Rest Within the Wreckage
The bonds of brotherhood have lasted long after the end of WWII for many crewmembers of the USS Arizona. Since 1982, over 30 crewmen who survived the attack have been cremated, given a full military funeral, and entombed in the wreckage of the ship, where they can rest forever with the fallen. Those who served aboard other ships lost during the attack can also have their cremated remains scattered above the place where their vessel sunk.
5. Three Battleships Present at Pearl Harbor Continued to Defend the Country
USS Pennsylvania, the USS Maryland, and the USS Tennessee, USS Nevada, USS California, and the USS West Virginia were all eventually repaired and returned to the United States Naval Fleet. The USS West Virginia was the most pummeled by eight Japanese torpedoes, but returned to service in 1944, according to The Christian Science Monitor, to take an active role in the last year of the Pacific War.
No matter how much time has passed since the attack on Pearl Harbor, it’s important that we continue to educate the youth of our country about the events of World War II, and the importance of our United States Military. Today, Japan is one of our country’s greatest allies, proving that no matter our past, world leaders must continue to work together for a peaceful future.