HomeNewsPearl Harbor Day: Museum Commemorates 81st Anniversary of Attack with Wreath-Laying Ceremony

Pearl Harbor Day: Museum Commemorates 81st Anniversary of Attack with Wreath-Laying Ceremony

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Chris Hondros / Staff

To honor the 81st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City held a wreath-laying ceremony. Wednesday, Dec. 7, marks 81 years since Imperial Japan launched a surprise military attack on the Hawaiian naval base in 1941. Over 2,400 men and women, both military personnel and civilians lost their lives due to the attack.

During the wreath-laying ceremony, families of survivors and former Intrepid crew members took a moment to remember the impact of that day that would spawn America’s involvement in World War II.

Michael Galella’s father, Chick Galella, was one of the Pearl Harbor survivors. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2021. During the ceremony, he gave an emotional speech about his father’s experience that fateful day.

“On the Saturday before Dec. 7 he was … they had house inspection,” he began. “He got a pass to go to Honolulu, Hawaii for the day. He was so excited that he could go … he got up early to have breakfast in the mess hall, and that pass would never be used. All of a sudden bombs were flying, bullets were flying. Can you imagine these 19-year-olds running for their lives?” Galella said on Wednesday.

According to Galella, if there’s one thing people should remember about the day, it’s that we should never forget our veteran’s courageousness during their time serving in World War II and at Pearl Harbor.

Group of remaining survivors gather at Pearl Harbor to honor those we lost that day

On that day, Dec. 7, 1941, Imperial Japan launched an unforeseen military attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor, taking the lives of 2,403 Americans. For the next 24 hours, Imperial Japan launched other fatal attacks on Midway, Wake Island, Guam, The Philippines, Malaya (now Malaysia), Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t have exact figures for how many survivors are still living today. However, data show that of the 16 million who served in the second world war, only about 240,000 were alive as of August.

According to a rough estimate by military historian J. Michael Wenger, there were about 87,000 military officials on Oahu at the time of the surprise attack.

On Wednesday, a group of survivors also came together at the scene of the Japanese bombing to pay respect to those who died 81 years ago. Sadly, in recent years, there’s been a decline in veterans who travel to Hawaii for the anniversary— mostly because the survivors are aging.

According to reports, the youngest active-duty military personnel on the day would have been about 17, making them 98 today. Many of the survivors who are living are at least 100-years-old.