Last weekend, Cabrillo National Monument journeyed back to December, 1941, and the fateful days immediately following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The weekend’s events commemorated the 70th anniversary of the attack and its significance to San Diego.
The schedule for the two-day event consisted of flag ceremonies, air raid drills, a guest lecture, tours to military bunkers throughout the park and more. Cabrillo NM is home to historic Fort Rosecrans and the 19th Coastal Artillery Squadron, which served to keep San Diego's coastline secure during WWI and WWII.
For 72 hours after December 7, 1941, the city of San Diego was put on blackout orders and the 19th Coastal Artillery Squadron was on high alert. At that point in time, Fort Rosecrans and the west coast of the United States were the front lines for the war in the Pacific. Today, over a dozen military installations reside within Cabrillo’s boundaries.
Cabrillo National Monument living history volunteers interpreted the stories of uniformed and civilian men and women who came together to achieve a common purpose to protect San Diego. They were joined by other living history interpreters from as far away as the Fort MacArthur Museum and by members of Air Group One, the San Diego wing of the Commemorative Air Force, who performed four flyovers by “Sassy,” an SNJ-5 Texan.
Superintendent Tom Workman supported the all-volunteer group who organized the event and acknowledged their efforts toward making the event a success. He recognizes the importance of bringing the park’s WWII history alive through living history interpretation.
“This is a story that is part of our park and a great opportunity to draw new audiences,” he says. “We can also foster newer connections and make Cabrillo more significant to the San Diego community.”
This 1941 living history event marks the first of its kind offered at Cabrillo. Due to positive public feedback, park management will explore the possibility of making this an annual event.
“The efforts of these volunteers brought our story alive and we are happy to support them,” said Workman. “Visitors were not only able to learn history; they were able to live it.”