Today is the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – a tragedy that took the lives of 2,335 American service members and brought the United States into World War II.

Several dozen survivors of Pearl Harbor gathered at the site on Tuesday at an annual memorial ceremony to commemorate the attack. The commemoration, hosted by the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service, began with a moment of silence at 7:55 AM – the same time on Sunday, December 7, 1941 that the attack began.

The Navy provided a live stream of the event.

Herb Elfring, 99, was in the Army at the time, assigned to the 251st Coast Artillery for the California National Guard.

Elfring, who attended the 80th commemoration, still remembers “Japanese Zero planes flying overhead and bullets strafing his base at Camp Malakole, a few miles down the coast from Pearl Harbor.”

Speaking of the commemorative event, he said, “It was just plain good to get back and be able to participate in the remembrance of the day.”

For an event like the attack on Pearl Harbor, pictures often do a better job conveying the history than words.

USS Arizona Sinking

U.S. Navy battleship USS Arizona burning following the Japanese attack. (Photo from Reuters).

USS Shaw Explodes

The destroyer USS Shaw explodes after being hit by bombs during the attack. (Photo from Reuters).

Pearl Harbor December 7

Sailors look on at Ford Island Naval Air Station as the USS Shaw explodes in the background at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. (Photo from Reuters).

According to The Associated Press, around 30 survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor along with 100 other World War II veterans joined the commemoration for the 80th anniversary.

U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class David Russell narrowly escaped with his life after Japanese bombs began falling on his ship, the USS Oklahoma. Russell planned to attend the commemoration, and said in an interview for decades after the attack, no one asked him about his experiences.

“When I was in the VA hospital there in San Francisco, they said, ‘We want you to talk about World War II.’ And I said, I told them, I said, ‘When we talk about it, people don’t believe us. They just walk away.’ So now people want to know more about it so we’re trying to talk about it. We’re trying to talk about it, and we’re just telling them what we saw,” Russell shared.

“You can’t forget it.”

Photo from Shutterstock.