December 7, 1941.

The date, to many, seems little more than a number etched in the past; the words Pearl Harbor Day nothing more than tiny font at the bottom of a square on the calendar. But to a dwindling number of American soldiers, it’s a day  marked with a heartrending mixture of joy and tears. Joy in their survival of a horrific attack on American soil, in the Pearl Harbor of Oahu, Hawaii. Tears shed in memory of their 2,403 brothers-in-arms who died during the explosive assault.

The Japanese shot torpedoes and dropped bombs from 353 war planes launched from six of their aircraft carriers surrounding our fleet. Four of our US Navy battleships were sank. All eight sustained severe damage.

This infamous attack on the United States Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was an effort by the Imperial Japanese Navy to keep the US Pacific Fleet from thwarting Japan’s plans to attack the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and, yes, the United States of America. During the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese carried out simultaneous attacks on other US-held territories; the British Empire in Malaya, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and in the Philippines.

Survivors of the bombing at Pearl Harbor are now in their early nineties. Once young men who entered the military in the late 30s and early 40s—some seeking adventure, but most seeking a means to support their families since few jobs were available following the Great Depression—these US Veterans now memorialize their service and honor their dead in small-town celebrations. Few are physically able or can afford to travel to Oahu, Hawaii, site of the Pearl Harbor Museum & Tours, where the largest celebrations are held.

It is our job, then, to remember these men and women. Our job to thank them for their duty in protecting our sovereign nation at the expense of life and limb. It is our job, at least, to remember. In his moving speech (listen to it here), President Franklin D. Roosevelt called December 7th, 1941 “A date that will live in infamy.” We haven’t forgotten, President Roosevelt. And on behalf of the US Veterans who served us that ill-fated day, let us never forget.

–Don C. Kesterson


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  2. Jeannine Racey on December 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm said:

    Some of the most amazing hero’s are the silent ones of this amazing generation. Many young men who joined after Pearl were still in high school. They joined and were shipped to the either the Pacific or Atlantic to fight on the first front. One of those young man was a “tail gunner” on the Liberator who was shot down over Germany and spent 15 months as a POW being marched to five different camps before being liberated by Patton’s Army. He was 92 when I met him and he could not remember the exact day of his birth but could tell me the exact day when Patton’s Army set him free, he weight 42 lbs and when he returned to the United States he received $45.00 for compensation for his shrapnel wounds and wounds of being a POW. He used his GI bill married his high school sweet heart and became an engineer and went to work for IBM. He invented the ink jet printer but what truly was his gift was his therapy. I asked what do you do for fun and he said ” I am 92 yrs old and I don’t have fun but what I learned to do when I could not sleep” and he walked me into his living room and there on every wall were the most incredible works of art in an amazing eclectic works of art, that took my breath. So I say…… That day in infamy changed many lives and it brought out the evil and good in man and it still affects us today. I have knowledge of those 16-17 year old high school students who went off to war and returned 4 years later after witnessing horrific events in history. To return to their classroom of high school seniors to finish their high school education and to move forward in their lives. Two of these veterans were my uncles. One went to the Pacific and one to Germany after the fall of Berlin.

  3. Joan Edmonds on December 11, 2013 at 6:17 pm said:

    My Mom and Dad remember that day. I can’t recall them telling us kid’s what it was like. I will ask them. They are 93 years old and in a care center in upstate N.Y. They are in the same room together, it’s sweet. My sister and her family visit them often.

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