In a statement The White House proclaimed today “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day”. The President hailed veterans: “Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II. As a nation, we look to December 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms.”
Keeping with the practice of past anniversary ceremonies, visiting veterans, relatives and dignitaries gathered at the harbor and bowed their heads for a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the time when the attack began seven decades ago. Military jets soared overhead in a “missing-man” formation.
Nearly 2,400 people were killed, and 1,178 were left wounded. A dozen U.S. warships sank or were heavily damaged, and 323 aircraft were destroyed, badly crippling the Pacific fleet. Almost half of those who perished were sailors aboard the USS Arizona, a large battleship sunk by the Japanese early in the attack. What is left of the ship remains in the harbor. Over it, the USS Arizona Memorial has been built.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 “a date that will live in infamy.” It is a dark date in the history of our country, and a date that brought Americans together in a rebirth of patriotism.
As World War II veterans are now well into their 80s and 90s, Pearl Harbor survivors are few and far between. The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will be disbanding as of December 31, 2011 due to declining numbers. If we remember one thing on this date, it should be to always love, honor and respect the citizens and heroes who came before us.