Public Papers

Proclamation 6386 -- National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 1991


By The President of the United States

of America

A Proclamation

At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, air and naval forces of Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack against United States military installations at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 2,400 Americans were dead or missing after the attack, including 68 civilians. Another 1,178 people lay wounded. Two U.S. battleships were destroyed; another six were severely damaged. On the same day, attacks against U.S. installations in Guam, the Philippines, and elsewhere in the Pacific left a similar trail of death and destruction. Less than 24 hours later, after an impassioned address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Congress declared that a state of war existed between the United States and the Empire of Japan. Thus, America became engaged in World War II, a conflict that would change the course of history, ending forever America's isolation from world events.

Across the United States, people rallied to the cry of ``Remember Pearl Harbor!'' While millions of brave and selfless Americans took up arms in the struggle for freedom, countless others labored and sacrificed on the home front. On our Nation's farms and in its factories, millions of workers rushed to increase production. In homes, schools, and churches, citizens of every age and every walk of life prayed for victory while making every contribution they could to the war effort. Yet this tremendous display of patriotism and resolve was more than a response to the outrage of Pearl Harbor. As President Roosevelt said:

When we resort to force, as we now must, we are determined that this force shall be directed toward ultimate good, as well as against immediate evil . . . . We are now in the midst of a war, not for conquest, not for vengeance, but for a world in which this Nation, and all that this Nation represents, will be safe for our children.

Six years after World War II began, and four years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States and its Allies secured the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. By the end of the war, there had been more than 1,000,000 American casualties. Some 400,000 Americans had died so that others might live in freedom. Our Nation will always be grateful for their courage and sacrifices.

When we remember those who served our country during World War II, we also recall President Truman's observation that the Allied victory was ``a victory of more than arms alone.'' Indeed, while our farms, factories, mines, and shipyards produced tons of raw materials and finished goods that were essential to the war effort, as President Truman said, ``back of it all were the will and spirit and determination of a free people -- who know what freedom is and who know that it is worth whatever price they had to pay to preserve it.''

On this occasion, we reaffirm the solemn commitment that President Truman made when he declared, ``We shall not forget Pearl Harbor.'' During the past five decades, that commitment has gone hand in hand with the unending task that President Roosevelt had earlier described as winning the peace. America's determination to remember the lessons of World War II and our continuing vigilance and resolve in the defense of freedom have helped to bring about the triumph of democratic ideals around the globe. Today Japan stands second to none as our ally and friend.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, let us remember in prayer all those who died on that day and throughout World War II. Let us also honor all those World War II veterans who are still living, especially the infirm and the hospitalized. Finally, let us give thanks for the great blessings of freedom our World War II veterans helped to secure.

The Congress, by Public Law 102 - 68, has designated December 7, 1991, as ``National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.''

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 1991, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.

George Bush

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:59 a.m., December 3, 1991]

Note: This proclamation was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on December 2, and it was published in the Federal Register on December 4.