You might have watched the movie, or you could have read our blogs – and guaranteed you know plenty about the attack on Pearl Harbor if you’ve done either of these. But there is much more to what happened on that fateful day, and afterwards, that is not as publicized.
As the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack reaches 75 years, here are 8 things you probably didn’t know about Pearl Harbor:
1. Pearl Harbor wasn’t always called Pearl Harbor. It was originally named Pu’uloa by the Hawaiians. They harvested oysters for food (not for pearls) and used the shells for bowls and fishing hooks. It wasn’t until the 1800s that it was called Pearl Harbor for the first time by foreigners who had come to settle. After that, the demand for pearls became great so harvesting oysters for pearls rather than food became more prominent. Unfortunately, this demand led to environmental issues, which killed off the oysters.
2. The USS Arizona Memorial was designed by architect Alfred Preis. It’s 65 metres long, spanning the hull of the ship. The memorial represents “initial defeat and ultimate victory” and sits above the USS Arizona itself, which lies at the bottom of 40 feet of water.
3. Dogs played a prominent role in the war and are recognized in a book you can purchase from the Visitor Centre at Pearl Harbor. There were 90 dogs in the military in December 1941, most of which were Siberians Huskies and Malamutes. The dogs pulled sleds, led search and rescue operations and even parachuted.
4. There were 1,177 crew members who died on the USS Arizona. Sadly, for their families, among those killed were 37 sets of brothers.
5. Many of the survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack have asked to have their remains buried on the site, so they can rest for eternity with their lost comrades. Crew members of the USS Arizona have permission to have their ashes taken under the water by divers and placed beneath one of the ships gun turrets. Other survivors can have their ashes scattered on the spot where their ship was when the attack happened. It is an extraordinary final mark of respect to both the survivors and those who died in combat.
6. A member of the crew on the USS Utah had taken his daughter’s ashes on board with him, planning to scatter them in the ocean. She had died at birth and her ashes were stored in his locker until he had the opportunity to take them out to sea. The attack sunk the ship and the baby girl’s ashes went down with it, along with 64 men. A funeral for the baby girl was held in the USS Utah Memorial in 2003.
7. 20 years after the attack, Elvis Presley himself held a fund-raising concert in order to raise money for the completion of the USS Arizona Memorial. The benefit concert was held in Honolulu on March 26, 1961 and every ticket sale went to the Memorial Fund.
8. Ironically, when it comes to the tourism industry and the economic vitality of Pearl Harbor today, the region is quite dependent on travelers from one place: Japan. In fact, Japanese travelers account for the largest number of international tourists to Hawaii, many of whom go to pay their respects to the lives lost.