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 Pearl Harbor/flickr/Laurens Doesborgh
Pearl Harbor/flickr/Laurens Doesborgh

On December 7, 1941 — about eighteen years before Hawaii became a U.S. state — the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the United States military stationed at Pearl Harbor. It began at 7:55 a.m. and took only one hour and fifteen minutes. Nearly half of the 2,403 causalities occurred when the USS Arizona sank. Today, its memorial is one of the most visited sites on Oahu, drawing millions of tourists annually.

This year, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary, there are a variety of ways in which Pearl Harbor can be remembered and memorialized, from events and tributes to beach movies and block parties. Below are five ways to experience the historic anniversary.

1. Retrace the Japanese flight path


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Paradise Helicopters runs a spectacular tour called Pacific Warbirds in which guests are flown aboard an old 1944 Warbird plane along the flight path taken by the Japanese on December 7th. Simulating a Japanese fighter, you are flown over the North Shore down through the center of Oahu to Pearl Harbor, where you make several circles overhead to view the still-active base from above, including the USS Arizona Memorial and Ford Island. In this true two-seater, you’ll sit directly behind the pilot a la Maverick and Goose in an open cockpit. But it’s the emotion of the occasion that really make the experience so incredible — listening to the pilot relay the history of the attack while looking down at the rainbows, waterfalls, mountains, and oceans is moving, to say the least.  

2. Visit a World War II speakeasy


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Oahu’s craft beer scene has taken off in the past three years with a total of ten local breweries. Each make different kinds of beer — all uniquely excellent — but one in particular is perfect for this occasion: Home of the Brave Brewing. The brewery itself is inside of a World War II museum that displays private artifacts and photos donated by veterans and their families. Next door at the Brewseum — the bar where the beer is served — all the brews carry a World War II theme and story, including the “Remember Pearl Harbor Mighty American Ale.”  

Late this summer, a small speakeasy was opened in the back of the museum, open on Friday and Saturday nights. It requires a special code to enter that can be obtained from the front desk attendant.

3. Party with World War II vets

Home of the Braving Brewing is also hosting a block party for World War II and Pearl Harbor veterans on Sunday, December 4th. Even though most are now in their 90s, the brewery is expecting more than 200 veterans to attend and will honor them with music, food trucks, and its house beers. Stop by to share a drink with a war hero and hear stories from that fateful day.

4. Be there for “the moment”

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. You can join in remembrance of that moment this December 7th at the ceremony held at Hickam Air Force Base from 7:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Follow along with a full day’s worth of events and commemorations followed by a parade later that night in Waikiki.

5. Kick back with concerts and documentaries on Waikiki Beach

From December 1 to 11, there will be various concerts, movie screenings, and documentary viewings all around Honolulu. Some are deep, historical, and nostalgic, such as the premier of the Remember Pearl Harbor film at the Pacific Aviation Museum or Run Silent, Run Deep at the Waikiki Outdoor Theater.  

“Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak will take part in a reprise play of “Righteous Revenge” that tells the story of the legendary Doolittle Raid on December 9th, and Garth Brooks will play two acoustic shows at the Neal Blaisdell Arena.   

If you’re looking for a free event, check out the Marine Corps band performances or a movie under the stars on Waikiki Beach.

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