(BCN) — The 59th annual “Eye of Diablo” beacon lighting will be held Wednesday afternoon at California State University East Bay’s Concord campus, commemorating the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that marked the United States’ entry into World War II. The rotating lantern on Mount Diablo was installed in the late 1920s to assist transcontinental aviation.
The system was deactivated during the war to ease fears enemy submarines would use the beacon as a navigational aid. The beacon was reignited on Pearl Harbor Day in 1964 at the suggestion of retired Admiral Chester Nimitz, wartime commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Pearl Harbor still contains invaluable lessons for the nation,” said Robert Phelps, director of the Concord campus.
“One thing people forget is how divided Americans were before the attack. Twenty years after the end of World War One, 70 percent of Americans polled believed that U.S. participation in the Great War had been a mistake. Immediately after Nazi Germany invaded Poland, 90 percent of Americans opposed getting involved in this next European war.
Yet, Pearl Harbor immediately unified the nation, ensuring the eventual defeat of the Axis powers and their ambitions for global conquest.”
The campus’ USS Arizona exhibit will be available for viewing at 3 p.m. before the 3:45 p.m. lighting of the beacon via a remote switch, and for 45 minutes following the conclusion of the event. In 2020, CSU East Bay received a small relic from the USS Arizona, which was destroyed during the attack.
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Although most of the Arizona lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, portions of the ship above the water line were cut away for use on other vessels or designated for scrap. Additional sections were removed during the construction of the Arizona Memorial. Because of the historical importance of the ship, most of the scrap was placed in a secret location on Oahu.
In 1994, the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service developed a protocol to donate these “Sacred Relics” to deserving institutions. Because of its support for past Remembrance Day activities, CSU East Bay was chosen as a recipient.
CSU East Bay’s Concord campus is located at 4700 Ygnacio Valley Road.
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