Search Engines and Remembering Pearl Harbor with Relevance

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A guy in Google forums once asked; “Why is there no Google Doodle in honor of December 7th? (Pearl Harbor)” With Google Doodles for everything from Apple Pie to the Simpsons, how come search engines don’t wave the flag on important days? And no, Google never considered a Pearl Harbor doodle since…

Today is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. For those of you who learned of Pearl Harbor, and the US entry into WW II in school, surely a sense of patriotism is stirred. On that day the United States 7th fleet, the whole of America, suffered a bludgeoning. Some 2,402 sailors, soldiers, airmen, and civilians were  killed, and another 1,247 were wounded.

Honoring Pearl Harbor on Bing

At the time, all Europe was embroiled in war, Japan had invaded China, the world was literally on the doorstep of becoming a fascist state. The American fleet at Pearl Harbor was the only significant force standing between a mighty Japanese Imperial Navy of unimaginable capability and the mainland of the United State. On that Sunday morning, just before church services, 6 Japanese aircraft carriers launched 353 warplanes at an unsuspecting American base.

The history of this momentous event is well documented, but I found it interesting to take note of how the world of the web perceives these events some 7 decades extent. And in keeping with our search engine fascination here, looking at Pearl Harbor Day 2012 via the various search pages, seems an interesting departure from ordinary web surfing. Looking at all the most popular engines, one clear winner (Bing pictured above) emerges where patriotic symbolism is suggested. Below you will find the engines from Ask to Google and beyond, positioned according to how I feel they show not only relevance  but their patriotic air.

Yahoo! Search

Many search, even non-search experts give Yahoo! (today’s search above) a tough time. If we use today as a gauge for relevance, if not patriotism, I don’t really see how Google or any of the others unseat Yahoo! Search users much. The screen below naturally shows about what Bing reveals, leaving off the wonderful image, of course. I rated them second because of the interesting addition of the Pacific Aviation Museum. Wikipedia, History dot com, blah blah, Yahoo! Search is just not half bad.

Dogpile is not what anybody would call a challenger to Google’s search supremacy  But, the three pooches under the American flag on the landing do a lot for their PR. And, the results are not so bad either. Today will probably go down in infamy for Google, losing out to Dogpile in search because a doodler fell asleep.

Dogpile Patriotism

Somehow Google failing to remember the brave who died 71 years ago – well, it’s just plain wrong in my book. Sure the demographic the search giant adores is too young to remember, but like I said, every kid in the United States gets December 7 in a history lesson or two. The big problem is, Google’s results are pretty dog gone useful, once you get past the news bits. Google comes in fourth by virtue of an almost unforgivable breach of netiquette. Google once recognized Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, Muppets, Dracula, and a host of other “chosen” subjects, but no Pearl Harbor heroes?

Evidently patriotism is not cool for Google doodlers?

Google does not remember Pearl Harbor

Blekko is a very nice search experience. I almost put it above Google by virtue of the results being so clean. But then, Remembering Pearl Harbor wise, they did not much better than most. The images at the top do look nice and provoke clicking. Anyhow, Blekko could have beat Google with a picture or a doodle of their own.

Blekko the SPAM free search engine

AOL, enhanced by Google, or so they say, just has to show the Huffington Post at the top of the results (below). But, once you get past the offers and etc. the search mechanism further empowered by Google somehow suffices. In memory of those who died at Pearl Harbor though, not. AOL forgot.

AOL search

Goodsearch gets an honorable mention here for having a pretty landing. And you know what, given they donate money to good causes every time I search, it would not take much to get me to switch here. Relevance wise, the query results are as good as nearly any today. is a meta search business that does not do a half bad job of compiling pertinent results from Google, Bing,  Yahoo! and Yandex. That said, their engine is about as ugly as it gets. Today, December 7th? They could care less evidently.

Infospace, used by all of 25 people (okay a few more) pretty much sucks winds where relevance for anything associated with Pearl Harbor Day goes. Now if you want a hotel room or some Pearl Jam tickets, this might be your engine of choice. Of course Infospace is all about “partners” and showing their results.

Infospace could care less about Pearl Harbor

Lycos is a dog that just won’t hunt”, as the old saying goes. Why? Look at all the opportunity the engine has on the landing page to show Pearl Harbor in images. Not even the news segment shows the Arizona Memorial. Once you type and search, the results are pretty good though.

Excite? As bad or worse than Infospace, not worth screen shot.
Ask – Don’t ask.

Search dot com – ugh.

MyWebSearch is definitely not my web search mechanism.

I am from Romania. Even in my country on the Black Sea, we learn of Pearl Harbor and look back to remember not only our own fallen heroes of past wars, but those of other countries. It seems so strange that only Bing and the guys at Dogpile thought to do a little bit today. Are there other engines doing something to remember? Let us hear from you.

Liliana Steffens
Liliana Dumitru-Steffens is a digital marketing expert and content curator, for Pamil Visions PR. She writes for Everything PR, and is a regular contributor to... Read Full Bio
Liliana Steffens
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  • Wow, Lili… a nice story. Bing kicked derriere with that image!

  • J C Lawrence

    Respect and remembrance are voluntary contributions, not obligations.

    • Indeed they are, JC. Indeed they are. Let’em American soldiers sacrifice their lives, as they still do in many war theaters around the world now, for you to be free to say what you just said.

      • J C Lawrence

        Quite, but when they become or are considered obligations, they become vapid posturing shams.

  • You missed one of my favourites, DuckDuckGo, but other than that great post! As for Google’s lack of patriotism, I guess they were too busy fighting the EU and forgot lol

  • It seems to me that Google tends to use the Doodle to celebrate human achievements. Pearl Harbor or other such war tragedies aren’t achievements.

    Are there other doodles related to war? A search on Google’s Doodle museum didn’t turn up any for me. If there were, do you think they’d start with Pearl Harbor?

    Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information”. They shouldn’t be focused on USA. So, if they’re going to create doodles for important war tragedies, they might start with something of great proportions like the Nanjing Massacre, with deaths in the hundreds of thousands.

    • What is Pearl Harbor, if not human achievement? Just a war tragedy? Do you really mean that sacrifice for one’s country, heroism, are not achievements? And that Pearl Harbor is not part of the world’s information? You do know that there are separate Google doodles for each specific country, depending on occasion, don’t you? So when they do anything country-specific, isn’t Google limiting focus? I don’t see anything wrong with commemorating or celebrating anything when it is relevant for a country, and it is a national symbol. But saying that PH is not an achievement, and not part of world information… I don’t know… Are you sure?

    • And PS: Google did celebrate something about the Vietnam War war in 2011. I am sure that (war tragedy) appeared in your search. Oh, wait… veterans are survivors. Surviving a war, focused on the USA, is obviously achievement: – so why a different treatment for Pearl Harbor heroes?

      • Good find. Seems there is a doodle for each Veteran’s Day, a day to honor people who served in armed service, including the battle of Pearl Harbor.

        Most of Google’s doodles celebrate human achievements, especially achievements in art and science. By “human achievement”, I mean something that improves the world for the better.

    • Thank you very much for you comment, Tait, I value your opinion. We applaud Google every time they doodle something about a celebrity (commemorating someone’s death -a tragedy – should be solemn too, and not an occasion for a doodle. Now birth is a different story), so I guess it is OK to criticize them when they don’t. Besides, if what you say is true, Pearl Harbor was an achievement – at least according to the Collins English Dictionary:

      achievement [əˈtʃiːvmənt]
      1. something that has been accomplished, esp by hard work, ability, or heroism
      2. successful completion; accomplishment
      3. (History / Heraldry) Heraldry a less common word for hatchment

      There are so many good things about Google. If they miss the mark, sometimes, and we speak up, Google can only get better. This is what makes them different: they listen to their users (call me naive, but I believe they do).

      • ‘Achievement’ may not be the right word. Good point about the death anniversaries.

        I think the key question from this article is “how come search engines don’t wave the flag on important days?”

        My answer: If they leave something out it doesn’t mean they don’t think it’s important. Their goal seems to be to associate their brand with people and events that advanced science and art. This is a branding decision, and I think it is a correct one.

  • Jason

    Celebrate human achievements How is what happen on Dec 7th 1941 not about celebrate human achievements. Think about how much worse the world would be had the US and Her allies had not rallied after that day and won WWII. For someone to server in the Military and not forget this day is a Celebrate human achievements. For someone to say other whys is to me just wrong and show a lack of respect for the people who died on that day or any other day Rant over

  • patriot

    I also looked for Remember Pearl Harbor yesterday on Google. I didn’t think some one as young as you would have the knowledge of that terrible day. Cheers to you for enlightening those that do not.
    However bringing Pearl Harbor to light is a beginning of trying to make most of todays population in the USA aware of historic events, that took place. But it will be a tough battle to overcome all the years of our schools history books omitting those facts, and the many years media downplay.
    Thanks again for your article……………..and remember today another very heroic battle started. The Empire of Japan attacked Wake Island. A small detachment of US Marines and civilian construction workers heroically held off the invasion for many days, inflicting much damage to their foe !
    Retired US Army Vet