On July 4, 2017, the United States celebrates its 241st Independence Day. While the Declaration of Independence was signed many years prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and we’ve enjoyed our freedom for many years, events like the attack on Pearl Harbor were a threat to the very things we aim to celebrate.

United States Declaration of Independence

Through the years since 1776, the United States has been protected by a dedicated military force, and they showed their outstanding bravery when the first of the Japanese fighters flew into the naval base at Pearl Harbor and began a devastating attack.

Over 2,400 Americans died on December 7, 1941, men who had sworn to protect the nation’s freedom so long as they served.

With Imperial Japan’s rapid advancement throughout the Pacific, showing the world that they had no intention of letting up, the men serving on the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack were protecting an independence and freedom that many Americans hadn’t even realized was in jeopardy.

With that in mind, it’s important not to forget the men who risked—and sometimes lost—their lives during the Pearl Harbor attack and World War II, and thanks to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and holidays like American Independence Day, we have suitable means of honoring these fallen and surviving veterans.

The National Monument

USS Battleship Missouri and Arizona Memorial

Battleship Missouri and USS Arizona Memorial

Within this monument, administered by the US National Park Service, is the greatest collection of Pearl Harbor memorabilia, artifacts, exhibits, and memorials, many salvaged from the destructive Japanese attack.

Start your visit at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, where guests occasionally run into one of the few remaining survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, there to retell their unique stories. The Visitor Center also houses the “Road to War” and “Attack!” exhibit galleries, collections of just about everything you could think of to detail the day of the attack and the events leading up to it.

These exhibits culminate in a documentary film about the USS Arizona, one of the mighty battleships that was destroyed and sank to the bottom of the harbor. The film serves as the introduction to the USS Arizona Memorial, a serene white structure built above the 75-year-old wreckage. The Arizona suffered the greatest loss of life during the attack, taking 1,177 of her crew when she sank to her watery grave.

Your Independence Day trek through time takes an uplifting turn with the Battleship Missouri, which gives a feeling of hope, being the vessel where Japan signed its surrender. The Bowfin, a submarine launched on the first anniversary of the attack and dubbed the “Pearl Harbor Avenger,” exemplifies American resilience in the face of devastation.

The final stop on your Pearl Harbor Fourth of July commemoration is the National Cemetery of the Pacific, the resting place of American military heroes from World War II up to the present.

From the attack on Pearl Harbor to the end of the hostilities, the World War II the Valor in the Pacific National Monument is a moving experience for your Independence Day.

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