The attacks on Pearl Harbor

The Congregational Church of Patchogue is hosting a “solemn but joyous service and remembrance” event on Sunday, Dec. 4, to mark the 75th anniversary of the air attacks by the Japanese on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

The surprise attacks at Pearl Harbor happened on Dec. 7, 1941, and thrust the U.S. into World War II, the most widespread war in history.

Sunday’s 4 p.m. services at the church, located at 95 East Main Street, will include live music, a dramatic reading of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech, and honored guests. A reception will follow.

“All Americans are survivors of Pearl Harbor,” said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter, “not only in the sense that the very existence of our country is a product of the hard-fought fight for freedom, but also in the psychological and spiritual sense in that we tend to repeat the lessons of history that we have collectively failed to heed and learn.”

“History blatantly or subtly repeats itself,” he continued. “Therefore, Pearl Harbor had better be more than a blip on the radar screen of American history that is casually mentioned, and then forgotten. A straight line, for example, and according to some, could be drawn from Pearl Harbor to the World Trade Center and our inability or unwillingness to acknowledge evidence that an attack is brewing.”

The event will also feature a display of historic photos of Patchogue from the 1940s. As for the live music, a trio of singers with piano and cello will perform hit songs from the year prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, including, Alexander’s Ragtime Band. The FDR speech will be read by a teenage girl.

“This is our gift to the community that we serve and that serves us so well,” Rev. Wolter said.

“Admission is free because all of us in the U.S. have already paid the price.”

Photo: U.S. Navy

USS Arizona (BB-39) sunk and burning furiously, 7 December 1941. Her forward magazines had exploded when she was hit by a Japanese bomb. At left, men on the stern of USS Tennessee (BB-43) are playing fire hoses on the water to force burning oil away from their ship Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.