December 7 marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii
Just before 8 a.m. (Hawaii time), the nation observed a moment of silence to commemorate the exact moment 70 years ago that Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. The December 7, 1941, attack killed 2,400 Americans and brought the U.S. into World War II.
President Barack Obama hailed veterans of the bombing in a statement and proclaimed Wednesday as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."
"As a nation, we look to December 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms," he said.
Honoring the Fallen
Nearly 3,000 people attended a ceremony at a site overlooking the USS Arizona, a battleship that sank during the attack. More than 1,100 servicemen aboard the ship were killed. The ceremony included a rifle salute by members of the armed services and wreath presentations.
Altogether, the U.S. lost 12 ships that day. The Arizona and another battleship, the USS Utah, are the only ones still sitting in the harbor.
USS Utah survivor Gilbert Meyer said he comes back each year to honor his shipmates who are entombed in the battleship. The USS Utah rests not far from where it sank off Ford Island, in the middle of Pearl Harbor.
Meyer, 88, remembers his ship rolling over after being hit by a torpedo. He saw Japanese planes dropping bombs. When the planes began firing machine guns, he knew it was time to move.
"That really got my attention so I got in the water and swam ashore," he said.