Each year on December 7, the nation remembers the brave servicemen who lost their lives during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other military targets on Oahu. The more than 2,400 Americans killed on that long-ago Sunday morning are commemorated through ceremonies held across the country and at the site of the devastating attack in Hawaii. Should you find yourself on Oahu in early December, you might be considering visiting Pearl Harbor on the anniversary of the tragic attack.
Should I Visit Pearl Harbor on December 7?
Before you do, however, there are some important things to bear in mind.
First, there are no tours of Pearl Harbor on December 7, so guests need to make their own way to Pearl Harbor.
Even if you do drive yourself, it’s important to remember that December 7 is the busiest day of the year at Pearl Harbor, bringing in crowds of people for the public ceremonies.The USS Arizona Memorial program is suspended until 11:00 AM, and the limited number of walk-up tickets for the rest of the day are exhausted very early.
If you’ve never been to Pearl Harbor, we highly recommend that you choose another day. If the purpose of your visit is to explore and understand the history of the attack while honoring the fallen heroes, the days both before and after December 7 are less crowded.
Should your schedule only allow you to visit Pearl Harbor on December 7, there are a few things to keep in mind:
December 7 at Pearl Harbor Is Busy
Very busy. This greatly reduces your chance of getting tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial program. It can also make the entire experience less enjoyable. With the large crowds, it can be a lot more difficult to stop and take in all of the exhibits, museums, and other important spaces.
Plan To Arrive Early
Very early. Parking lots open at 5:00 AM and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center opens at 6:00. Arrive early to secure a parking space.
Other Pearl Harbor Events
Though the actual anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack is very busy, and tours don’t operate that day, there are special events throughout the week before the anniversary that explore various aspects of the history and culture of Pearl Harbor.
The public is invited to attend events at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center throughout the week, starting on December 1 with History Day, followed on December 2 with Ka Ho’olina o Hawaii, an interactive educational look at the history of Oahu and Pearl Harbor. Art in the Park on December 3, and an educational symposium called the PEACE Program is scheduled for December 5. The annual Blackened Canteen Ceremony takes place on December 6 aboard the USS Arizona Memorial. Reservations for this ceremony are required, and can be made by calling Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum event coordinator Gary Meyers at 808.282.6570.
If You Do Go
If you’ve been to Pearl Harbor before, going for the ceremonies on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day can be a very moving experience. The National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Commemoration takes place at the Ceremonial Lawn of the Visitor Center starting at 7:45 AM. The USS Oklahoma Memorial Ceremony begins at 1:30 PM on Ford Island. Shuttles from the Visitor Center run every 15 minutes.