Lest We Forget: Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Brings Community Together in D.C.

The Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony at the Navy Memorial on Dec. 7 in Washington, D.C., commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the surprise attack by Japanese forces on the U.S. Pacific fleet in 1941.

Veterans, Navy personnel and the local community came together despite the cold morning to pay homage to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice during the attack and to those that continued the fight as America entered World War II.

Among those in attendance was Pearl Harbor survivor Howard Snell. The Navy Veteran was stationed at the submarine base on Oahu when the attack happened and recalls thinking the Japanese fighter planes were part of a weekend training exercise. When he saw smoke billowing from battleship row, he realized it was an attack and ran to get a better few of the scene.

“I looked down to fleet landing and I couldn’t understand what it was,” Snell said, “but it was already the Oklahoma – she had already flipped – and just about that time the Arizona blew.”

Snell, who later fought in the Battle of Midway, said he continues to talk about his experience to schoolchildren and, although he’s “slowed down” quite a bit, tries to remain active in events like Remembrance Day every year.

Read more about Pearl Harbor here and make sure to watch full episodes of VA News on the VA YouTube page.


Reynaldo Leal

– Reynaldo Leal is a public affairs officer for VA’s office of Digital Media Engagement and member for the VAntage Point’s staff. He is a proud Marine Corps Veteran who deployed to the Al Anbar Province with 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment in 2004 and 2006. He also took part in some of the heaviest fighting during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004.


  1. Uwe Burczyk    

    Entschuldigen Sie mir Bitte,das ich hier in Deutscher Sprache Schreibe,weil ich ein kleines Bißchen Englisch kann! Mein name Uwe Burczyk und lebe in Deutschland,in Lauenau/Niedersachsen! Dein Pearl Harbor-Krieg kenne ich aus Geschichtsbüchern und Filmdokumenten her und von der Fernsehserie,Feuersturm das im Deutschen Fernseh,gelaufen war. Und bin der Meinung,das die Ehrungen der Umsleben Gekommenen,Soldaten,Soldatinen und vieles mehr für alle Zeit,gedacht werden muss,weil dieser Angriff auf Pearl harbor 7.12.1941,ein Datum der Schande ist und in der Zukunft immer daran zu denken. Dieser Hinterhältige Angriff,hätte niemals Statt gefunden,wenn die Verhandlungen,weiter geführt worden wäre.Eine Lösung zu finden die alles verhindern werden konnte. Ich Trauer jedes Jahr mit,Ihnen und Verneige mich,aus Respekt der Toten Soldaten. Und wünsche das,sowas nie wieder Passieren dürfen. Auch wenn ich,kein Amerikaner bin,so fühle ich als Mensch! Und bedanke mich aus Respekt,all diejenigen die
    Amerika Pearl Harbor ,schlimmeres Verhindert haben und es Verteidigt haben. Solche kriege darf,es in Zukunft nicht geben. Gott schütze Pearl Harbor und Amerika und der ganzen Welt!

    (English translation below)
    Please excuse my writing in German to you, because I only know very little English. My name is Uwe Burczyk and I live in Germany, in Lauenau/Lower Saxony. I have heard about your Pearl Harbor war from history books and movie documentations and from the tv series “Feuersturm” (Fire storm) which was aired on German TV. And I think that those who lost their lives, soldiers and many others, should always be honored, because this attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, is a date of disgrace and should also in future always be honored. This sneaky attack would have never taken place if there
    had been negotiations to find a solution that could have prevented all this. I mourn every year and I bow respectfully to the soldiers that died. And I wish that something like this never happens again. I am not American, but I feel like a human being. And I respectfully thank those who prevented something worse in Pearl Harbor and who defended it. Those wars are not allowed to happen in the future. God bless Pearl Harbor and America and the
    whole world.

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