Opportunities to reflect and honor veterans on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Those who lost their lives 81 years ago today are being honored and there are ways you can pay your respects as well.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 8:12 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s a day that still lives in infamy. December 7, 1941, the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Those who lost their lives 81 years ago today are being honored and there are ways you can pay your respects as well.

On December 7, 1941, a U.S. Naval base located just outside Honolulu, Hawaii was hit at 8 a.m. by Japanese planes dropping bombs on the harbor and the surrounding airfields.

There are several commemoration events taking place throughout Wilmington today to remember the nearly 2,000 military personnel killed, and more than 1,000 others hurt. One place you can honor the lives lost that day is aboard a ship that saw action in World War II.

  • Aboard the Battleship North Carolina, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club will host a worldwide HAM radio operator event. Radio operators making contact will receive a special postcard verifying the contact.
  • Also on the battleship, nearly 200 wreaths will be laid on the ship’s lifelines. These “Wreaths of Honor” were purchased by friends and family to honor their veterans and active-duty service members.
  • Wilmington’s Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center will host a commemoration ceremony at 1:25 p.m. This free event is open to the public.

I spoke with the son of a veteran who was at Pearl Harbor during the attack, who said he learned a lot from his father over the years.

At just 19 years old, Albert Hawes was sent to Honolulu, Hawaii one week before the attack. He was lucky enough to make it home and tell his three sons about one of the most tragic events in American history.

Below is a picture of Hawes that was taken 24 hours before the attack. While he was on his balcony writing a letter to send that picture home, the first bomb exploded. The stories that have been told have stuck with his son Ronnie, and after all these years, he is proud to keep his father’s account alive.

Albert Hawes, Marine 4th Defense Battalion
Albert Hawes, Marine 4th Defense Battalion(WECT)

“My dad says his heart was here, up to here and back down again. He said it was just pure chaos. I mean, he saw bodies in the water, ships on fire. People hobbling and screaming, and all that running around, and all this was just complete chaos. He had, literally a front row seat of how we got to World War II. And thankfully, he came to it and two of his buddies that was with him. But he has never forgotten that day.” said Hawes.

A day like that never leaves you and Hawes said that after 70 years, his dad still knew exactly what happened and was telling stories as if it happened yesterday. It was something he could never forget.

Albert Hawes passed away nine years ago at the age of 91.