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Commemoration Ceremony Held at USS Arizona Memorial

Aired December 7, 2001 - 12:51   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: In Hawaii at this hour, a commemoration, a ceremony to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, 60 years ago this morning, is just now getting underway. This is the USS Arizona Memorial. The ship is under the water, and this memorial was built above it.

These are admirals, captains in the Navy who are speaking to the assembled group. And we're going to listen in on a good part of the ceremony.

Joining me now to help us listen and understand this day a little bit better is Gerald Astor, historian, author of "The Greatest War Volume One: From Pearl Harbor to the Kasserine Pass."

Gerald Astor, as we begin to listen in on today's -- this morning's events -- it is this morning in Hawaii -- most Americans were born after December 7, 1941.

Let's go -- let's actually go to the event and listen to some of what they're saying right now, and I'll come back to you in just a second.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... one hundred and sixty-four U.S. planes had been destroyed, with an additional 150 damaged, and 2,388 Americans had been killed.

This morning, we are gathered to pay tribute to those who died in that infamous attack 60 years ago today, a day that has lived in infamy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure you noticed the shape of the memorial when we transited out to this ceremony. The rise at the end where you entered represents the strength of the United States military forces before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The dip in the center represents our defeat here at the beginning of World War II. The rise at this end of the memorial represents our return to strength, and our ultimate victory at the end of World War II.

At the center of the memorial, there are seven windows on each side, and seven windows on the top. Together they represent a perpetual 21-gun salute. The interior of the memorial is divided into three sections. The first section is the entry room, the center section is the viewing and ceremonies room, and the last section behind me is the shrine room, where the names of all the sailors and marines who were killed onboard the USS Arizona are displayed.

Chaplain Atkins (ph) will now offer the invocation. Will the guests please rise and remain standing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, it is customary that we observe a moment of silence at 07:55 on this day, for that is the time at which the attack began. When you hear the ship's whistle blown,please bow your heads for a moment of silence to mark the commemoration of the beginning of the attack. The moment of silence will conclude when aircraft from the Hawaii Air National Guard conducting a missing man formation fly-over.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To your left, you can observe the Hawaii Air National Guard formation of F-15s approaching in honor of those who gave their lives in defense of their country here at Pearl Harbor.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please be seated.

The wreaths of the armed forces will now be presented. Representing the United States Army, Lieutenant General and Mrs. Edwin Smith.

Representing the United States Marine Corps, Lieutenant General and Mrs. Earl Hailston.

Representing the United States Navy, Rear Admiral and Mrs. Robert Willard.

Representing the United States Air Force, Brigadier General Paul Fletcher.

Representing the United States Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Ralph Utley.

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for morning colors. The Pacific Fleet Band will play "The National Anthem" as the colors are raised. To your right you will see the USS Paul Hamilton commanded by Frederick Pierman (ph), the Captain Buzz Buzzby (ph), commodore (UNINTELLIGIBLE) embark. The ships and her crew render honors to the memorial.

Buglers, sound attention.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please be seated.

Rear admiral, my guests... (AUDIO GAP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no more humbling experience than to stand in the presence of so many American heroes. Sixty years ago today, perhaps the darkest day in American Naval history, the tragedy that took place in the surrounding waters (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Remember Pearl Harbor, a rallying cry that led our great nation out of the depths of despair to the heights of our greatest victory.

We gather here today at Pearl Harbor to pause, to reflect on the loss of our Navy overall, the officers, sailors and the Marines who (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We leave this great reward. We honor them and the other 1,300 men and women who died (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that fateful morning. Their collective sacrifices coupled with the steadfast determination and resolve of their fellow countrymen freed the world from tyranny.

The heroic efforts of our Greatest Generation made the United States of America what it is today, the most powerful and respected nation on Earth.

Today it seems as if history repeated itself. The winds of war once again blowing across the United States as they did December 7, 1941. For the second time in our nation's history, our individual liberties are directly threatened. And just as it was 60 years ago, leadership is the cornerstone of this resolve. And I think you will all agree this leadership is well represented here today, especially as it applies to our guest speaker.

As most of you know, Admiral Clark, the 27th chief of Naval operations, a position he assumed on July 21, 2000. As chief of naval operations, he is a senior (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He is responsible for the secretary of the Navy, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

A member of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) staff, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He has distinguished himself as a statesmen, a warfare (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

It's my esteemed pleasure to introduce, Admiral Clark.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Admiral Conway, chairman Young, Congressman Abercombe (ph), Congressman McKnight (ph), secretary (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Secretary Morales, flag and general officers, distinguished guests, honored survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, fellow sailors, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Pearl Harbor a is special place to this nation and to the United States Navy. For 60 years now, we have remembered this day. Our ships come and go. And every ship which comes by this site renders honors to the United States ship Arizona, paying tribute to this ship and the sailors our nation lost that day. In the peaceful quiet calm that unfolds this memorial this morning, it is difficult for me to imagine the shock, the chaos, the violence, the death that gripped this beautiful harbor 60 years ago, and several wars ago. Imagine the smoke, the flames, the shattering noise, the screaming bombs, the rush of torpedoes, the broken ships, and planes, and our men running to their battle stations, running to fight, and broken lives, and for most of us, these things are simply beyond our comprehension.

Relatively few Americans today have come face-to-face with the horrors of war. And a diminishing number fought in the global war that for the United States of America began here. There are very few indeed who can say, "I was at Pearl Harbor." And yet such men are among us here today, and they honor us with their presence -- the Pearl Harbor survivors.


By my best count, there are 21 of you here today, representing the hundreds that will be here in Hawaii and in Pearl Harbor here today for this commemorative event, and I want to thank you for coming here today, but even more so, I want to thank you for your great service to our country.

I want you to know that I am very proud to be part of a generation that simply followed you, collectively, we all salute you this morning.


There are few phrases in the English language that evoke all, that connote a truly special meaning, but such as the case with the phrase "I was at Pearl Harbor." There's no need for a survivor to say the date; it's branded forever in our national memory. And our president at the time said, as Admiral Conway said, "This is a date that lives in infamy."

For those who lived in the last half of 20th century, it is a date that stands out in American history. It is a date that stands out. It's unique. Before Pearl Harbor was quite literally a different era than after Pearl Harbor. Every American learns the Pledge of Allegiance, and every American is taught about George Washington, and every American knows about Pearl Harbor. What happened here in this place profoundly altered our national experience. It is part of who we are as a people.

This morning we come to this place, again, we gather to pay homage to the heroes of a war long over, and as we come this time, we are at war again, our homeland attacked. And as we pause to commemorate the bravery and the sacrifices of the shipmates, we draw strength from the world-changing events of Sunday December 7, 1941, especially here at the USS Arizona, where so many sailors and marines are entombed.

In this solemn memorial, I am reminded of the words spoken during an earlier war, a terrible civil war, during which President Lincoln said, "From these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion." Freedom, government of the people, by the people, for the people, these are the most important treasures for those who live in the land of the free. Freedom and Democracy are an inheritance hard won by our past generations for us to enjoy, but freedom and Democracy are also the unfinished work that is left for us to defend, to carry forward and to hand down to future generations.

And so now we are at war with enemies who hate freedom and democracy. They want a society of coercion. They want a political order of force. Their brand of tyranny is willing to resort to terror and the slaughter of innocents.

The Americans of 1941 answered the call, and today Americans are doing so again. It's our turn. It is time for us to rededicate our lives to the cause of freedom so that children in our nation and others will enjoy the fruits of freedom.

We citizens of the United States have a profound responsibility to protect this nation, the self-evident truths upon which it was founded, and the Constitution under which it has flourished. In this mission, we act not only for ourselves and our society, but in the concert of many nations, including our now close ally Japan, and the community of nations which recognize that the free world must stop the threat posed by this recent version of terror. Together, let us stay the course.

In 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor was followed by grim months of defeat and frustration in the Pacific until the Battle of Midway in June 1942. And it was more than three long, tough years after the Midway victory was sealed aboard the Missouri, moored just a few hundred yards away.

As with that struggle, this new war is likely to be long and challenging, and to win, we must show the same dedication, the same fortitude and perseverance that our forefathers displayed during the Second World War. And I have every confidence that we will do so.

On 11th of September, your Navy and Marine Corps team was ready. Your fleet was ready to respond to the orders of the president and the will of the Congress. We were ready to fight, and we are winning today. And today's young Americans, young sailors, young marines, along with their comrades in the Army, and the Air Force and the Coast Guard, they are as dedicated, they are as brave, and they are as determined as their predecessors. And they are as equipped with the example of fortitude and determination that grew from Pearl Harbor. They are motivated by your examples of service and heroism, and they cherish the stories of The Greatest Generation, and they, like you, are carrying the banner of freedom throughout this world.


Many of them are over there right now, afloat and ashore, taking the fight to our enemies. Many of them are on watch elsewhere, in other district parts of the world, and many are getting ready to go as their president asked them to do. These young people of whom I am so proud are all doing a magnificent job, and with the steadfast support of the American people and our friends around the world, the soldiers, and the sailors, and the airmen, and Marines and the Coast Guardsmen of this generation will do their part to win this war, to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and for our children, and for generations of Americans in centuries yet to come, just like you did.

To the memory and legacy of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and to those resting in this hallowed place, we extend, again, the thanks of a grateful nation. We extend the promise that their sacrifice will be honored, and all of us who serve and where the cloth of the nation today, we commit, we promise anew to do our duty so that America will remain the beacon of hope, the lighthouse of freedom and the bastion of liberty. We make this promise in the memory of those who served and those who gave their lives in this place.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Admiral Clark, and thank you for being here, sir.

It is customary at this observance for several organizations to present wreaths in honor and in memory of all those lost as a result of the Pearl Harbor attack. Wreath presentations will be made by those organizations listed inside your program.

As presenter names are called, please proceed forward along the center aisle to the well to receive a flower from your wreath. After presenting your flowers, please return to your seats along the side aisles.

Representing the Department of Veteran's Affairs, the honorable Robin Higgins.

Representing the United States Pacific command, Admiral Dennis C. Blair and Mrs. Diane Blair.

Representing the consulate general of Japan, the honorable Mr. Minora Shobuya (ph).

Representing the Veteran's Administration medical and regional office, Mr. David Burge (ph).

Representing the Veteran's of Foreign Wars of the United States and Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW, commander-in-chief Jane Goldsmith (ph).

Representing the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association, Mr. Ray Emory (ph).

Representing the National Park Service, ranger John Reynolds.

Representing the American Legion National, Mr. Michael McKlowski (ph).

Representing the American Battleship Association, Mr. David Graham.

Representing the Disabled American Veterans, Commander Al Frumpton (ph).

Representing the Fleet Reserve Association, branch 46, Mr. Dick Smith.

Representing the 442nd Veteran's Club, Judge Patsugo Miho (ph).

Representing the Arizona Memorial Museum Association, Miss Patricia Lucas.

Representing the state of South Carolina, chief Thomas E. Hughes, United States Navy, retired.

Representing the USS Arizona Reunion Association, Mr. Joseph Campbell.

Representing the USS California Reunion Association, chief Herald Estes (ph), U.S. Navy, retired.

Representing the USS Missouri Association Incorporated, Mr. Herbert Farr (ph).

Representing the USS Memorial Association, Vice Admiral Robert Cahooney (ph), United States Navy, retired.

Representing the USS Nevada Association, Mr. Woodrow Derby (ph).

Representing the USS West Virginia Reunion Association, Mr. Richard Fiske (ph).

Representing the USS Utah Survivor's Association, Mr. Charles Streeter (ph).

Representing the USS Indianapolis Survivor's Association, Mr. Paul Murphy.

WOODRUFF: As we watch this ceremony, beautiful in its simplicity, remembering the 1,100 crewmen of the USS Arizona and all the others who lost their lives on December 7, 1941.

And I want to bring in briefly Gerald Astor, the historian who has written about World War II and about Pearl Harbor.

Gerald Astor for those in this country who were born after November 7, 1941, why is it important, so important, to remember that date?

GERALD ASTOR, AUTHOR, "THE GREATEST WAR": Well, the date resonates with one their more familiar with, which is 9/11 this year. As in this last attack on the United States, the assault at Pearl Harbor was totally unexpected, at least by the civilian population of the United States, it killed 2,400 Americans, and it become a rallying point.

The problem for society, closed societies like Nazi Germany or like Japan in 1941, and for the Taliban and their ilk today, is they don't seem to realize the strength of character in a democracy, an open society like the United States. They see us as disorganized, as rife with political controversy, noisy demonstrations, confrontations, people who worship in many different ways, a place where we make our living in so many -- in such a variety of fashions, where the art and entertainment ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime. They don't see that there's any kind of spiritual unity in the United States. But when we're attacked, the differences fall away and we come together in a way that has been devastating for our opponents.

And I think that Pearl Harbor is a -- was a wake up call, if you'll put it, for the American democracy, that our way of life was being challenged, just as 9/11 was.

WOODRUFF: And not just a coming together of Americans -- but look, you see representatives of the Japanese there at the ceremony. We saw the consul general there, participating in this extraordinarily beautiful ceremony, simply throwing a flower into the water over the USS Arizona.

Again, the USS Arizona is several feet under the water. This memorial built above it, not touching it in any way.




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