Historical Memory of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Today, the United States is remembering the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Concerns with historical memory and the disappearance of the World War II generation are apparent with this year’s commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the surprise attack and the United States’ entry into the Second World War.

Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. Photo: U.S. Navy, AP.

Even as the nation invokes historical memories of Pearl Harbor, it recognizes a certain closure. A program that has worked to identify victims of the attack using DNA techniques has also come to an end this week.

The New York Times reports: “As the nation observes the 80th anniversary of the attack that drew the United States into World War II, the military said this week that a six-year project to identify those killed on the Oklahoma had matched human remains from the ship with the names of 355 sailors and Marines.”

“Thirty-three of the ship’s crew members could not be identified by comparing remains with DNA samples from relatives or dental records as part of the project, which began in 2015 and which officials said had ended.”

The New York Times reports on the DNA identification program.

The U.S. Navy’s Naval History and Heritage Command has an online reading room on the Pearl Harbor Attack. I am proud to say that Greg Bereiter who earned his Ph.D. at Northern Illinois University, is Branch Chief of the Histories Branch at the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Undergraduate students at Northern Illinois University will be examining the history of war and society with me in my upcoming class, HIST 384 History of War since 1500 during the Spring 2022 semester.

This entry was posted in History in the Media, History of Violence, Museums and Historical Memory, Strategy and International Politics, War, Culture, and Society. Bookmark the permalink.

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