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updated: 12/7/2012 9:17 AM

Pearl Harbor dead remembered on 71st anniversary

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  • In this U.S. Navy file photo, a small boat rescues a USS West Virginia crew member from the water after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 during World War II. Two men can be seen on the superstructure, upper center. The mast of the USS Tennessee is beyond the burning West Virginia.

      In this U.S. Navy file photo, a small boat rescues a USS West Virginia crew member from the water after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 during World War II. Two men can be seen on the superstructure, upper center. The mast of the USS Tennessee is beyond the burning West Virginia.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- More than 2,000 people are gathering at Pearl Harbor to mark the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack that killed thousands of people and launched the United States into World War II.

Ceremonies get under way with a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the exact time the bombing began in 1941.

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The crew of a Navy guided-missile destroyer will stand on deck while the ship passes the USS Arizona, a battleship that still lies in the harbor where it sank. Hawaii Air National Guard aircraft will fly overhead.

The Navy and National Park Service are hosting the ceremonies, which are being held in remembrance of the 2,390 service members and 49 civilians killed in the attack.

Friday events also will give special recognition to members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, who flew noncombat missions during World War II, and to Ray Emory, a 91-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor who has pushed to identify the remains of unknown servicemen.

Admiral Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, is scheduled to give the keynote address. The ceremony will also include a Hawaiian blessing, songs played by the U.S. Pacific Fleet band and a rifle salute from the U.S. Marine Corps.

President Barack Obama marked the day on Thursday by issuing a presidential proclamation, calling for flags to fly at half-staff on Friday and asking all Americans to observe the day of remembrance and honor military service members and veterans.

"Today, we pay solemn tribute to America's sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice at Oahu," Obama said in a statement. "As we do, let us also reaffirm that their legacy will always burn bright -- whether in the memory of those who knew them, the spirit of service that guides our men and women in uniform today, or the heart of the country they kept strong and free."

The Navy and park service will resume taking visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial, which sits atop the sunken battleship, after the ceremony.

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