Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor


Editor’s note: The events featured in this article occurred in 2016, but you’ll find other happenings on our events page.

The devastating attack on Pearl Harbor that led to the United States’ entry into World War II took place 75 years ago on December 7, 1941.  Arkansas is uniquely poised to commemorate the event, because the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (AIMM), anchored on the North Little Rock side of the Arkansas River, is the only place in the continental U.S. where you can see naval vessels from the beginning and the end of WWII in the same place.

The tugboat Hoga began fighting fires, rescuing sailors and moving ships out of danger within 10 minutes of the attack. She is best known for having pushed the sinking USS Nevada aside to shore, preventing her from blocking the channel into the harbor. Historians have suggested that the war would have lasted even longer had access to the harbor not been clear.

The USS Razorback conducted five combat patrols during the war, capturing POWs, rescuing shot-down pilots and sinking Japanese vessels. She was one of only a dozen submarines invited to be present in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender. If it weren’t for AIMM, you’d have to go all the way to Hawaii to see two ships of such provenance together. Even without the shadow of a historical milestone, AIMM is a terrifically interesting place.

In order to create an event befitting the significance of the moment, the museum teamed up with partners on both sides of the river, and the result is a full week, Dec. 5-11, of presentations, exhibits, screenings, talks and other special happenings all centering on WWII, with many providing special benefits to current and former members of the military. The best way to navigate the complete schedule is to view it on the museum’s website, where it’s possible to filter by day and type of event. But to get you started, here are some highlights for each day of the week:

Monday, Dec. 5 — Cinema and crafts

The film Pearl Harbor will be shown at 12:30 p.m. at Laman Library’s Argenta Branch. Free brown bag lunches will be provided for patrons; please RSVP by calling (501) 687-1061. The Argenta Branch of Laman Library is located at 420 Main Street in North Little Rock. 

At Laman’s Main Branch, the children’s department will host “Planes of World War II,” an all-day opportunity for families to make paper airplanes representing many different crafts that flew in WWII. While you’re there, check out the branch’s two special exhibits, one on WWII-era inventions that are still in use today, and one displaying books about Pearl Harbor with informative handouts. Before you leave, take the opportunity to send a holiday card to service men and women who survived the attack. All of these are free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Main Branch of Laman Library is located at 2801 Orange Street in North Little Rock. 

Tuesday, Dec. 6 — A closer look

National Geographic’s documentary Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack will be shown at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Ron Robinson Theater. Doors will open at 10:30 a.m. with the screening beginning at 11:00 a.m. The screening is free with complimentary refreshments provided. Ron Robinson Theater is located at 100 River Market Avenue in Little Rock.

Wednesday, Dec. 7 — A singular ceremony

The Arkansas Remembers Pearl Harbor Ceremony will be hosted at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock. The formal ceremony begins at 11:55 a.m., after a moment of silence at 11:48 a.m., the local time in Arkansas of the attack. From 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the tugboat Hoga will be available for public viewing (look closely at the starboard bow to see the dent from Hoga‘s pushing the Nevada to safety) and a rare opportunity to walk on the deck, along with the museum’s exhibitions, featuring a recently acquired diorama depicting Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The North Little Rock Community Concert Band will perform before and after the ceremony. During the ceremony, there will be a flyover. And after the ceremony refreshments will be served at the museum and food trucks will be on hand for lunch. The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is located at 120 Riverfront Park Drive in North Little Rock. 

Thursday, Dec. 8 — Supper and a show

“SOS Supper and a Show” at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History will begin at 6:00 pm. A traditional World War II supper, called “SOS,” will be served, and the classic Pearl Harbor movie Tora, Tora, Tora! will be shown. Seating is limited to the first 75 people. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The Jacksonville Museum of Military History is located at 100 Veterans Circle, Jacksonville. 

Friday, Dec. 9 — A repeat performance 

If you missed the showing of Tora! Tora! Tora! at Jacksonville’s SOS Thursday evening, you’ve got another chance to see it on Friday. The Laman Library will screen the film for free at 1:30 p.m. Beforehand, a special lunch will be served to all veterans at noon. Veterans who would like to participate in the luncheon are asked to RSVP by calling the Adult Services department at (501) 758-1720. Space is limited and reservations will be first come first serve. The Main Branch of Laman Library is located at 2801 Orange Street in North Little Rock.

Saturday, Dec. 10 — A tour on two wheels

Bobby’s Bike Hike is offering a 10% discount on tours and rentals to all military all week, but the popular “Historic Neighborhoods” and “Pork and Bourbon” tours only take place on Saturdays. The Historic Neighborhoods Bicycle Tour begins at 9:00 am at spends two hours exploring Little Rock’s rich, colorful history through quiet tree-lined streets, city parks, and historic places. Rates for this tour for military are $22.00 (normally $27.50).  On the Pork and Bourbon Bicycle Tour, which begins at 11:30 am, participants to sample their way through some the South’s favorite delicacies–Ribs, southern sides and desserts, local craft beer and bourbon.  Rates for this tour for military are $38.50 (normally $50.00). Bobby’s Bike Hike is located at 400 President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock.

Sunday, Dec. 11 — Through a journalist’s lens

The Allison Collection of World War II Press Photographs at MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History showcases selected photographs from the museum’s collection of World War II press photographs. Jim Allison, a sports reporter for the Houston Press during the war, amassed a collection of over 4,600 images from photojournalists depicting scenes from all theaters of conflict. The entire collection is available for viewing on the museum’s website. The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is located at 503 East 9th Street, Little Rock and is open from 1:00 pm till 4:00 pm with free admission.