December 7, 1941 saw the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and America's declaration of war against Japan. Stories about the war are shared as veterans begin to enter their 90s.
Sunday, December 7, marked the 73rd anniversary attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the entrance of the United States into World War II in 1941. This year, World War II veterans gathered at the site and around the country to honor the memory of the fallen soldiers.
On December 8, 2014, America fully committed to entering the Second World War and declaring war on Japan. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would declare the attacks “a day that will live in infamy.” As the 21st century progresses, FDR’s prediction remains true as people assembled in chilly air to say ‘we remember’ to those whose lives were lost in wake of unparalleled killing. And thank survivors for giving everything to protect American freedom.
Reuters reports that Lou Conter made the trip to Pearl Harbor from Alta Sierra, California, for the fifth year in a row. Conter stated that he and other survivors of the USS Arizona air attack started gathering on the lawn in 1991 and have continued.
However, he pointed out that the gathering wasn’t about the survivors at all. "It's to pay respects to the 2,400 who died that day, 1,177 on the Arizona.”
John Mathrusse, another survivor, agreed. Left near the Pacific Fleet on Ford Island, he recalled being in survivor mode. "I had a rifle, which I used” against the planes. “It didn't do any good but it sure made me feel better.”
323 military plans and 21 vessels are sunk beneath the surface or damaged around the harbor—oil leaking, creating a trail of black tears across the sea.
Even on days other than December 7th, the atmosphere around Pearl Harbor is hallowed and sacred. People speak in hushed tones, looking to not disturb those buried in watery tombs. And children are quietly reprimanded for being disrespectful in such a sacrosanct space.
More than 50 veterans attended the ceremony, in total around 2,500 guests. Four of the remaining nine Arizona survivors attended. The USS Chung-Hoon whistled at 7:55 a.m., signaling a moment of silence.
Marking the time of the attacks and signaling the rise of other veterans around the U.S. remembering the horrific events.
Des Moines, Iowa, saw the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors and American Post 2 gather to remember the lives lost and survived during the attacks. KCCI, the local CBS affiliate, notes that one veteran named Clarence viewed the ceremony as proof that “the sacrifices he made for his country were worth it and will not be forgotten.”
The Gainesville Times in Georgia notes that the papers of the time, the Gainesville News and Gainesville Eagle, rallied the city to face the new threat on American soil. Former editor Johnny Vardeman writes that “there were at least eight military personnel from Hall County stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time” and more would follow “as the attack inspired patriotism around the country.”
The Gainesville News united the home front, pointing out the flaws in preparation and awareness of possibilities. “Our nation has been apathetic and half-hearted in its efforts not only to defend itself, but to prepare for an all-out struggle against any and all aggressors.”
Patriotism dramatically rose throughout the holiday season, as 9th District Rep. B. Frank Whelchel returned and remained in Washington to vote on the declaration of war resolution and churches offered prayer services. The faraway European war suddenly went from a lukewarm reception to what one Hall County resident explained to local Draft Board as “I am ready when my country needs me.”
ABC affiliate WPVI in Philadelphia announced that only 2,000-3,000 veterans are alive and most are in their 90s now.
Alexander Horanzy was a new PFC who survived the attacks. "They started strafing Schofield barracks with machine gun fire.” He also explained that while prior alerts had been sent out previously, that Sunday “everybody was at ease and this is when they took advantage of us.”
San Diego's ABC affiliate news reporter, Matt Mendes, spoke with Scott McGaugh at the USS Midway. McGaugh, part of the USS Midway Museum, called "the opportunity to shake the hand with the Greatest Generation" an honor.
Five veterans in their early 90s were expected to show up and "participate in a brief remembrance ceremony." Seventy-three red, white, and blue carnations were dropped from the sky to honor the soldiers at Pearl Harbor and those at Midway.
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2014 marks the beginning of the First World War and the entrance of the U.S. in the Second World War. Only 27 years apart, both tumulus war periods highlight the loss of life and embracement of liberty to many people. Soldiers stood united against the tyranny of enemies and veterans honor those hit by the air attacks.