More than 50 World War Two veterans will gather in Honolulu on Sunday to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that left more than 2,000 Americans dead and thrust the United States into the war.
The early morning ceremony on the main lawn of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center was expected to draw 2,500 people, organizers said.
Among them will be four of the nine remaining Pearl Harbor survivors who have traveled to Oahu for the last official gathering of the USS Arizona Reunion Association.
The ceremony, overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial, is part of a nationwide remembrance of the surprise air attack on the Pacific Fleet by Japanese pilots on Dec. 7, 1941.
The bombing took about 2,400 lives and sunk or damaged 21 vessels and 323 military planes.
On Friday, President Barack Obama proclaimed Dec. 7 to be National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
“Today, with solemn gratitude, we recall the sacrifice of all who served during World War Two, especially those who gave their last full measure of devotion and the families they left behind,” said Obama, who was born in Hawaii.
The ceremony on Oahu will include music by the Navy’s U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, morning colors, a Hawaiian blessing, a cannon salute by the U.S. Army, echo taps and wreath presentations.
At 7:55 a.m. (1755 GMT), the time the first bombs fell, a whistle from the USS Chung-Hoon will signal the beginning of a moment of silence that will conclude with a missing man flyover in honor of those who died.
Recognizing that many World War Two veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors cannot travel to Hawaii, the event will be streamed live via a webcast.
(Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Paul Simao)