Starting today (Saturday, December 3), HISTORY provides a full weekend of documentaries commemorating the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Set your DVRs, and check below for the rundown.
HOW TO WATCH
There are a bunch of things airing this weekend on cable! Tune in to HISTORY to find them. The big specials are Pearl Harbor: 75 Years Later airing Saturday, December 3 at 9pm ET/PT; and Pearl Harbor: The Truth airing Sunday, December 4 at 10pm ET/PT. Throughout the weekend, there will be primetime airings of Pearl Harbor: The Last Word. Read below for more on each of these. Note that much of this material will also be available on-demand, on the HISTORY Watch App, and on History.com starting December 5.
SATURDAY: PEARL HARBOR: 75 YEARS LATER
Pearl Harbor: 75 Years Later brings us back to December 7, 1941, that "day that will live in infamy." Through interviews with military experts, survivors, and historians, the film reminds us what happened that day, and how it shaped our country. (Not least, of course, by bringing us into WWII.)
SUNDAY: PEARL HARBOR: THE TRUTH
Pearl Harbor: The Truth is based on the book A Matter of Honor—Betrayal, Blame and A Family’s Quest for Justice by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan. It's an investigation of what U.S. officials knew about a possible Japanese attack, when they knew it, why the attack wasn't prevented, and who took the blame.
Within Pearl Harbor: The Truth, there is no single smoking gun; it's a series of failures big and small, including a darkly comical failure to wake up the one guy who translated Japanese intelligence when a crucial new piece of intelligence came in overnight. There are piles of lessons to be learned here.
At its core, this documentary is about failures within the military and intelligence apparatus, as well as the political response to these failures. Author Robbyn Swan appears frequently, as does the family of Admiral H.E. Kimmel, who was relieved of his command (along with General Walter C. Short) shortly after the attack. Kimmel and his family have long maintained that he was scapegoated by FDR. This documentary, along with its source book, make that case effectively.
ALL WEEKEND LONG: PEARL HARBOR: THE LAST WORD
Seventy-five years is a long time. There will not be many more chances to have living people who were on duty at Pearl Harbor in 1941 available to talk about that attack and reflect on it. This is a tremendously important moment to listen to those veterans and acknowledge their service.
Throughout the weekend, HISTORY will air a series of short films called Pearl Harbor: The Last Word, featuring interviews with 25 veterans (aged 92-104). These pieces are devastating, as these men speak about the lingering effects of the war on their lives. HISTORY will also donate the source interviews to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, so that future generations can continue to hear these veterans' voices and hope to understand what they endured.
One clip from the short films is embedded above. It's incredible material, especially when you account for the age of these men. I kept doing mental math to sort out the age of the men at the time of the attack (the oldest was 29 at the time). Having watched a bit of this material, I wanted to include a clip from one more below, dealing with the internment of Americans of Japanese descent. Have a look, and tune in this weekend for the full set:
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