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.