American Resilience: Why Remembering Pearl Harbor Matters

Flags of Valor - Remember Grit and Resilience

What is Pearl Harbor Day? At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, a wave of almost 200 Japanese planes attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. A second wave stretched the attack out for two hours, killing 2,403 Americans and wounding another 1,178. The attack also destroyed 188 U.S. aircraft and sank or damaged 19 Navy ships.

Now, 81 years later, the significance of Pearl Harbor stays with us as Americans remember that this attack launched the United States into World War II. We should also remember this date as a symbol of American grit and resilience.

Why? Because by April 1942, 16 Army Air Corp B-25 bombers were taking off from the USS Hornet. Under the passionate leadership of Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, these men launched a first-of-its-kind bomber assault on mainland Japan overcoming immense odds to strike a powerful psychological blow. Then, in June—just six months after the Pearl Harbor attack crippled the U.S. Pacific Fleet—that same U.S. fleet defeated the Japanese Navy in the Battle of Midway. What the Japanese expected to be a demoralizing loss for the United States became a decisive victory and critical a turning point in America’s Pacific campaign.

Battle of Midway - Flags of Valor

Remembering Pearl Harbor matters because even though we lost so much, Americans never lost their courage to stand up to enemies seeking to attack our people, country and freedoms. With U.S. Service personnel deployed around the world to protect these same values, we should remember the courage of the sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines who saw the United States through such turmoil in the days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the against-all-odds victories in Tokyo, at the Battle of Midway, and ultimately in World War II itself.

Pearl Harbor Survivor Poem

Pictured is Rear Admiral Paul Howell who survived the attack while serving as an ensign aboard the USS Neosho. His ship was later sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea. The note is a prayer from his bride, Evelyn Howell, always sure to remember the service members who "lost their tomorrows."

"Dear Lord,
Help us to do our best to make each day an excellent day. Many of our country's servicemen lost their tomorrows for our sakes.
May we, with your help, make our todays count.
Thank you, Amen."

You can read more about turning-point battles of World War II in the descriptions of our wooden Betsy Ross American flags, including: The Battle of MidwayThe Assault on Tokyo (the Doolittle Flag), Iwo Jima, and Omaha Beach.