This December 7 commemorates the 75th anniversary of one of the pivotal moments in our nation’s history: the attack on Pearl Harbor that catapulted the United States into World War II. It was an event of international and national significance, and, although the memories are fading for many, it was also one that was impactful here in Long Beach.
To remember the attack and its lasting national and local impact, the Historical Society of Long Beach (HSLB) is launching an exhibition, “Long Beach Remembers Pearl Harbor,” with two events on December 7.
As sailors look on at the Ford Island seaplane base, the USS Shaw explodes and the USS Nevada comes under fire at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. (Official U.S. Navy photograph, National Archives Collection)
A free memorial service in remembrance of Pearl Harbor will be held at the plaza at Long Beach City Hall at 9 a.m. The event will feature an honor guard, the playing of taps, and remarks by American Gold Star Manor President and CEO Terry Geiling.
That evening, the historical society is officially launching its exhibition, which runs through April 2018, with a reception at its headquarters in Bixby Knolls (4260 Atlantic Ave.) at 6 p.m. The event features an honor guard, guest speaker Dr. Craig Hendricks, who will relay stories of Pearl Harbor heroes from Long Beach, as well as remarks and stories from long-time Press Telegram writer and executive, Rich Archibold. Guests will also enjoy vintage cocktails, hors d’oeurves and entertainment.
The event costs $75 for the general public and $60 for HSLB members, veterans and active duty military personnel in uniform, of which $50 is tax deductible.
According to Tim Friden, a historian associated with HSLB, eight battleships that were at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, had been stationed in Long Beach in previous months and years. As a result, “a significant number of casualties either were from Long Beach originally, or had been based here for a number of years, if not 10 or more years,” he told the Business Journal.
The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Shaw burns on December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor. Her bow exploded after coming under attack from the Japanese. Pictured in the distance, at right, is the listing USS California. (Official U.S. Navy photograph, National Archives Collection)
“There were over 100 widows and dependents left behind [in Long Beach],” Friden continued. “The city really felt almost a personal connection to the attack in a way because the ships had been here for so long and had been such a feature. The Navy had been such a strong feature of the city that it really impacted the city very heavily.”
Julie Bartolotto, executive director of HSLB, said the organization planned the exhibition back in 2013 with the intention of commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attacks, and to highlight local ties to the events of that day that many residents are unaware of.
“This exhibit will exemplify so much of what Long Beach is really about,” Nikki Tennant, president of HSLB, wrote to the Business Journal in an e-mail. “Courage, resourcefulness, and working together to solve common problems; this is what post Pearl Harbor was about for this city. After the bombing, we lost so many loved ones who were stationed on the ships that were destroyed or disabled.
“The ones left here were forced to recreate their lives, all the while helping to support the war effort and pulling together for the common good. I hope today’s residents will take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain a little insight into what was a massive change for our city during WWII.”
For more information about the events on December 7 and the HSLB exhibit, visit http://hslb.org/visit/exhibits/long-beach-remembers-pearl-harbor/.