Mt. Diablo Beacon

Remembering Pearl Harbor

  • BY Kimberly Hawkins
  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY Save Mount Diablo
  • December 1, 2022

In remembrance of the start of the United States' involvement in World War II, the 59th annual "Eye of Diablo" beacon lighting will be held at Cal State East Bay’s Concord campus on Dec. 7. 

The rotating lantern was installed in the late 1920s to assist transcontinental aviation. To ease fears that the beacon would be used as a navigational aid by enemy submarines, the system was deactivated during World War II, and only reignited on Pearl Harbor Day in 1964 at the suggestion of retired Admiral Chester Nimitz, wartime commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The tradition has continued to the present.

“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 person 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 Beacon ceremony, honoring the resilience of the community, will feature viewings of the campus' USS Arizona exhibit, from 3-3:45 p.m., and for 45 minutes following the conclusion of the event.

In 2020, Cal State East Bay was chosen to receive a small relic from the USS Arizona. 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 Department of the 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, Cal State East Bay was chosen as a recipient.