Like just about every morning, the morning of Dec 7th, 1941 began as a beautiful sunny day on the island of Oahu. But the peace and tranquility of the islands was forever changed by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This date marks the 75th anniversary of that attack and the entrance of the United States into World War 2.
Over 1100 sailers, almost half of the total number of casualties that day, died on the battleship Arizona.
There were 60,000 personnel at Pearl Harbor that day. The number varies, but last year, according to the Arizona Memorial Foundation, around 2000 Pearl Harbor survivors were thought to be alive. Most of these veterans are in their 90’s now. Many have never returned to Pearl Harbor for any of the anniversary memorials. Several organizations are making efforts to get as many survivors as possible to Pearl Harbor this year.
“Clearly, the number of survivors is dwindling next to nothing,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “The next big milestone is the 100th, and there will be no survivors.” That’s why this anniversary is so special. This might be their last chance for a large gathering of survivors.
At noon on Dec 7th, I will be at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood for a public wreath laying ceremony at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, behind the main flag pole. I’ll be one of the 3 buglers sounding Taps.
Regardless of where you are on the 7th, please pause for a moment at noon, say a prayer for the fallen and give thanks that their sacrifices assure our freedoms today.