Friday, December 5, 2008

Flags to Fly Half-Staff in Commemoration of Pearl Harbor Attack

/24-7-- On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, December 7, 1941 initially seemed liked any other sunny day. The US forces stationed there were awake and ready to begin their daily grind. At 6:00 a.m. however, over the horizon, six Japanese carriers were already in the midst of launching the first deadly wave of surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor. A total of 181 Japanese Air Force planes began bombing American ships and military installations on Oahu by around 8:00 a.m., inflicting heavy damage on naval air bases at Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay, the Marine airfield at Ewa and the Army Air Corps air fields at Wheeler, Bellows and Hickam, as well on the ships moored in Pearl Harbor.

The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted two hours. A total of 320 aircraft were severely damaged, along with twenty-one navy ships. Among the sunken navy ships were the USS West Virginia, The USS Oklahoma and the USS Arizona. The attack also disabled the US Pacific Fleet, and led the United States into World War II. The news of the deadly attacks on Pearl Harbor sent shockwaves across the whole United States, and emboldened every able-bodied American to volunteer into the U.S. Armed Forces. It also united the country behind President Franklin Roosevelt, and completely erased the country's isolationist sentiments.

According to historians, The Pacific Theater in World War II was fought over the largest area of any major conflict in history, and raged over an expanse of land and sea covering an area half the planet's size. The many battles and firefights that raged on each island and beach here evoke stirring images of courage and resilience. History now has names like Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Attu, Midway and Peleliu, Iwo Jima and others etched in its pantheon, allowing future generations to remember the heavy sacrifices made by many to ensure that we remain free from tyranny.

On December 7, all US flags at federal, state and public facilities in the United States will be flown at half-staff, in commemoration of the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. This historic day will allow all Americans to remember the infamous attack by Japanese forces on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, as well as celebrate the valor and dedication shown by a brave generation of Americans during the World War II. December 7, 1941, according to US Navy Chief Admiral Michael G. Mullen, was "not just a day of infamy, but in many ways it was a day of discovery for America and for the world. It changed us, it hurt us, but it also made us stronger, as did September 11."

The US Congress, according to Public Law 103 308, has officially designated the seventh day of December as the "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day." On this solemn occasion, the nation pays homage to the perseverance and heroism shown by many in the face of extremely overwhelming odds. This holiday allows the nation to commemorate the sacrifices made by the valiant members of the US Armed Forces, as well as to celebrate the victory over the forces of fascism, oppression and isolationism. This day also bodes well for igniting the patriotic spirit in each of us.

Matt Knowlan of, an expert on flag etiquette further adds that the US flag should be displayed, and waved as well, during national holidays, and also be displayed daily on or near the main building of each public institution. It should also be displayed in or near every polling place on election days, as well as on or near schools during school days.

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