It has been 55 years since the peace of a Sunday morning - and of a nation - disintegrated in the chaos of fire from the air.
Still, the memory of the attack on Pearl Harbor is as vivid to its survivors as the tropical dawn in which it occurred.
“Every one of us can recall it right to the instant,” said 82-year-old Joe Langdell, who came from Yuba City, Calif., to join some 450 other members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association at a memorial for the attack that dragged the United States into World War II.
This year’s ceremony is to begin with a service at 7:50 a.m. aboard the USS Arizona Memorial, including prayers, the laying of wreaths on the harbor waters above the sunken battleship and a 21-gun salute.
The ashes of three recently deceased Arizona survivors - James William Green of Troy, Mich.; Frank Campbell of Surfside, Fla.; and Norman Coplin of Miami, Fla. - were to be interred by Navy divers in the Arizona’s submerged No. 4 barbette, the armored cylinder on which the battleship’s 14-inch gun turret once were positioned. Ten survivors have been interred in the Arizona since 1988.
Also today, the Opana Radar Site in the bluffs overlooking Oahu’s North Shore was to become a national historic landmark. From the site’s trucks and trailer that housed then-new radar technology, Army operators detected the approach of Japanese planes. But the radar blips were ultimately and tragically dismissed as those of U.S. B-17 bombers from the mainland.