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Pearl Harbor attack 68th anniversary commemorated today: "Remembering the Battle"

Pearl_Harbor_anniversary_commemorated_Remembering_the_Battle“Almost every major film about Pearl Harbor has been filmed here,” said Martinez. “They used the original attack sites, but the only two things that they got right in the film was that it happened at Pearl Harbor and on Dec. 7.”

Despite the fictional characters played by Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, Martinez appreciates how the film inspired a greater interest in Pearl Harbor.

“As bad as the history in the film was, the byproduct made the war relevant to the younger generation,” says Martinez, who’s noticed an increase in a younger crowd at the museum.

Another Hollywood fantasy? The Kolekole Pass. “In many movies and pieces of literature, the planes were shown coming from the Kolekole Pass,” says Martinez, “but they never did—only in Hollywood. It’s so funny because even the Japanese fell prey to it themselves in a movie that they made in 1960 called, I Bombed Pearl Harbor. Some myths get turned into facts.”

Pearl_Harbor_anniversary_commemorated_Remembering_the_BattleDec. 7, 1941, is often referred to as the “Day of Infamy,” with a strong emphasis on the destruction at Pearl Harbor. But after visiting the memorial and its museum, I realize that it was a day that affected the whole island of Oahu. Airfields at Hickam, Wheeler, Ewa, Kaneohe and Bellows were also under fire at the same time battleships were being destroyed at Pearl Harbor. Oahu became a battlefield.

“Pearl Harbor is the generic term for the attack on Oahu,” says Martinez. “All these civilians who worked at Oahu’s airfields were under fire just like the military was, but who tells their stories?”

That’s the purpose of the museum and visitors center.

“Here, they will never be forgotten,” he says.

(This article won a 2009 finalist prize for feature writing from the Society of Professional Journalists, Hawaii Chapter) 

Photos: The USS Arizona Memorial (pg. 1, top), the Arizona's Number Two gun turret on fire (pg. 1, bottom), the Arizona explodes just after 8 a.m., Dec. 7, 1941 (pg. 2, top), oil from the Arizona's sunken hull still rises to the surface of water (pg. 2, center), Pearl Harbor's Battleship Row during the attack, as seen from the cockpit of a Japanese aircraft (pg. 2, bottom), the memorial's shrine room with the names of the fallen engraved in marble (pg. 3, top), the Memorial's American flag (pg. 3, bottom).

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