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Pearl Harbor still evokes vivid national memory

The National World War II Museum commemorates anniversary

NEW ORLEANS (December 5, 2007) – When the smoke cleared at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, 2,333 Americans had been killed and 1,139 wounded. The US Pacific fleet was devastated. The nation that had been hoping for peace was now mobilizing for a war that would change the United States and the world forever.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called it “a day that will live in infamy.” Sixty-six years later and half a world away, The National World War II Museum in New Orleans remembers Pearl Harbor. “The attack on Pearl Harbor plunged this nation into World War II,” noted Museum President and co-founder Gordon “Nick” Mueller, Ph.D. “But amidst the tragic losses, the teamwork, courage, ingenuity and determination of the American Spirit shone through. That’s what we honor and celebrate every day at The National World War II Museum.”

With the numbers of World War II veterans in rapid decline, the Museum has an urgent mission to collect and preserve the stories of the men and women on the battlefront and the Home Front during this extraordinary moment in world history. Museum historians work throughout the country to capture these priceless stories in first-person video histories.

The National World War II Museum permanent exhibitions in fascinating and moving displays that include carbon copies of the radio transmissions that delivered the news that America was under attack, oral history listening stations where ordinary men and women tell their individual stories, and a small portion of the USS Arizona where 1,177 crewmembers lost their lives. In the Museum’s $300 million expansion now underway, even more of the extraordinarily dramatic Pearl Harbor story will be told. The Museum’s curators and research staff continue to acquire both artifacts and oral histories to further illuminate the magnitude of this dark day.

“Pearl Harbor was the beginning of a harrowing journey for our country,” noted Governor Pete Wilson, Chairman of the Museum’s national Board of Trustees. “With so few witnesses left to share the emotions, hopes and fears of that dreadful day, it is more important than ever that we seek out that history. We not only invite the public to visit the Museum, but also to look for people in their own lives and communities whose stories need to be preserved. Just as it was in World War II, we are truly all in this together when it comes to preserving these priceless stories for future generations.”

The Museum already has filmed a number of profound Pearl Harbor oral histories. Radioman 3rd Class Everett Hyland was severely burned and wounded on the battleship USS Pennsylvania. George Brown was trapped in the capsized USS Oklahoma after it was hit by more than seven torpedoes. John Finn received the first Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II for securing and manning a machinegun in a completely exposed section of the Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to return enemy fire. He is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient and the only surviving recipient from the Pearl Harbor attack.

For the first time, the Museum’s international travel program is offering a unique Pearl Harbor tour featuring noted historians and the opportunity to travel with Pearl Harbor veterans to the sites where their lives became a major part of the nation’s history. This exclusive weeklong adventure begins on February 29, 2008 in San Diego with a visit to the San Diego Air & Space Museum and the USS Midway. The group will then travel to Los Angeles with a tour of the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial along the way. After a flight to Honolulu, guests will check in at the historic “Pink Palace of the Pacific” The Royal Hawaiian, a luxury hotel where servicemen in the Pacific Fleet would come for R&R during World War II. There will be an extensive tour of Oahu and the actual Pearl Harbor battlefields, airstrips, sunken battleships and military bases that still bear the scars of that brutal attack. Other stops include the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island with a behind the scenes tour of the island, a VIP tour and a welcome address from Historian Daniel Martinez of the USS Arizona Memorial and a wreath laying ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery or “Punchbowl Cemetery.”

To speak with someone about donating an artifact related to Pearl Harbor, call 877-813-3329 x 228. To receive information on contributing an oral history, call 877-813-3329 x 311 or x 313. For additional information on the Pearl Harbor tour, please call 877-813-3329 x 257 or email travel@nationalww2museum.org. Visit www.nationalww2museum.org for more information on The National World War II Museum’s programs and exhibitions.
 

 

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