Los Angeles, Dec 8 (IANS): The US government, military and veteran groups held a number of events Wednesday to remember 2,400 sailors and marines who perished exactly 70 years ago when the Japanese launched an aerial attack on some 200 US ships moored at Pearl Harbor, with president Barack Obama hailing survivors for their tenacity.
Three thousand participants, including some 120 veterans who survived the early morning attack on a fleet of US warships, land bases and air strips by squadrons of Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes, observed a moment of silence at an event held at a visitor center run by the National Park Service, reported Xinhua.
Survivors who had served aboard USS Arizona, USS Wheeler and other ships sunk in the surprise attack were called to stand up to be recognized by servicemen and civilians who gathered on the lawn overlooking a white memorial built above the sunken USS Arizona to witness the solemn occasion.
The moment of silence was observed at 7.55 a.m. Hawaii time, exactly the time when Japanese bombs rained down on an unsuspecting US Navy, sinking four battleships, along with three cruisers, three destroyers and two other types of ships. One hundred eighty-eight US aircraft were destroyed. Casualties numbered 2,402, and 1,282 sailors and marines were wounded during the Dec 7, 1941 attack.
The then US president Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the day "a date which will live in infamy", and declared war against Japan on the following day.
Proclaiming Wednesday as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Obama praised veterans, saying: "Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II."
"As a nation, we look to Dec 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms," he said in a prepared statement.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families for whom this day is deeply personal - the spouses, brothers and sisters and sons and daughters who have known seven decades without a loved one but who have kept their legacy alive for future generations," the president said.