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79th observance of Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7 to be mostly virtual

An SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 15 flies over the USS Arizona Memorial. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/U.S. Navy)

The 79th observance of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Oahu will be largely virtual due to COVID-19 with “a very small number of veterans and speakers ” in attendance at Pearl Harbor, the National Park Service said today.

The ceremony honoring 2, 403 American lives lost in Japan’s surprise attack will begin at 7 :50 a.m. at Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s Contemplation Circle. Adm. John Aquilino, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, will deliver the keynote address.

Last year, more than 2,000 people attended the ceremony, which included about a dozen survivors of the attack. The dwindling number of eyewitnesses are around 100 years of age.

A moment of silence will be observed at 7 :55 a.m., around the time the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began. A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer will render pass-in-review honors to the USS Arizona Memorial and all World War II veterans. A missing man flyover will follow.

The event’s theme of “Above and Beyond the Call ” will focus on “Battlefield Oahu.”

“Though the Japanese Empire focused on the destruction of the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, the attack encompassed the entire island with assaults on Army and Marine aviation bases as well as civilian facilities, ” the park service said in a release.

The park service and Navy host the event.

“The veterans and civilians caught in the crossfire of the opening battle of the Pacific War will always be an inspiration to the fighting men and women of today, ” said Rear Adm. Robert Chadwick, commander of Navy Region Hawaii. “We are inspired by their courage under fire and we look forward to honoring them and remembering their legacy.”

The entire event will be live-streamed on Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s Facebook page and at www.pearlharborevents.com in partnership with Defense Media Activity.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s observance will not be open to the general public. Once the ceremony is complete, the park will open to the public, the park service said.

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