Pearl Harbor Day, or more officially, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, occurs on December 7 of each year, honoring those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. The holiday is also known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt called this important day in American history “a date which will live in infamy.” Let’s take a deeper look at what this revered day of observance is all about.
When is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day?
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is held on December 7th each year. When you get that question, “When is Pearl Harbor Day?” you’ll have the answer.
Upcoming Years Anniversary of Pearl Harbor
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Saturday, December 7, 2024
Sunday, December 7, 2025
What is Pearl Harbor Day?
Pearl Harbor Day honors the 2,403 Americans killed and 1,178 injured when Japan attacked the United States Naval Station at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It is a day of prayer and remembrance.
Congress officially designated the observance on August 23, 1994, after a proclamation by President Bill Clinton declaring December 7 of that year the first National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
Have a read through these questions and answers to learn more about this special day.
How do we observe Pearl Harbor Day?
We honor the lives lost as a result of the attack on the U.S. military at Pearl Harbor by flying American flags at half-staff until sunset.
Memorial services, wreath-laying ceremonies, and tributes are held at historic WWII sites like the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Schools teach students about the significance of this important day in World War II history in classrooms across the country.
Is Pearl Harbor Day a public holiday?
Special events are held in honor of Pearl Harbor Day, but it is not a federal holiday where schools, government offices, and businesses are closed in observance.
When is the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor?
America commemorates the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 2021, at the Pearl Harbor Memorial and across the nation.
What happened at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?
In the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, Japanese pilots attacked the neutral U.S. Naval Station Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. 2,403 Americans died, and 1,178 were injured.
Four U.S. battleships sank as a result of the attack. Other battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and a minelayer were damaged — including 347 aircraft destroyed or damaged.
The next day, the United States declared war on Japan. America entered World War II on the side of the Allies.
How many died on Pearl Harbor Day?
2,403 Americans died in the Pearl Harbor attack (1,178 were injured).
The first shot at Pearl Harbor came from a United States destroyer shooting at a Japanese submarine. The submarine was trying to enter the harbor and was shot down.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was the tipping point for the U.S. to enter World War II.
Two U.S. ships were damaged beyond repair during the attack: Arizona and Oklahoma. The entire attack lasted about two hours (110 minutes, to be more precise).
The Japanese sent two waves of attacks. The first reached Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m., and the second at 8:40 a.m. 353 Japanese planes carried out the attack.
Japan needed resources – mostly oil – and felt that by destroying America’s Pacific Fleet, the U.S. wouldn’t be in a position to interfere with Japan’s plans to obtain in from other countries in Southeast Asia.
American aircraft carriers were out at sea and were undamaged by the attack.
“Black tears” or “Tears of the Arizona” refers to the fact that the ship still leaks oil in the harbor every day.
The phrase, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” translates to “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” which was a signal from Japanese Commander Mitsuo Fuchida that the attack had caught the Americans by surprise.
The Japanese lost 65 men, and one was captured.
A total of 28 Japanese planes were shot down, and American forces sank five submarines.
What are the Pearl Harbor historic sites?
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial includes the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, and USS Utah Memorials.
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park feature a historical tribute to America’s Submarine Force.
Tour the last U.S. battleship at the USS Missouri Memorial.
The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor at Ford Island features WWII-era aviation hangars and fully-restored vintage aircraft.
Other related holidays
Veterans Day – November 11
Armed Forces Day – Third Saturday in May each year
Memorial Day – Last Monday in May each year
D-Day – June 6
Flag Day – June 14
Pearl Harbor quotes
May God have mercy upon my enemies because I won’t.
General George S. Patton
Before we’re through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in Hell.
Vice Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey
Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.
Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us, this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.
Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. (And) Victory, however long and hard the road may be. For without victory, there is no survival.
If you’re a history buff, plan a visit to The Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
By Trevor Johnson
Trevor writes about history, culture, and philosophy.
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