Sixty-nine years ago today, December 7, 1941, the United States of America was attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, counted 2,390 Americans dead and 1,282 wounded. Eight battleships, three destroyers, three cruisers, and one minelayer were destroyed along with 188 aircraft.
The Los Angeles Times talked with two men who were there that day and didn’t know each other at the time — but 20 years later became neighbors in Monrovia, California. Neither wanted to dwell on December 7, 1941.
“I wasn’t impressed that George was at Pearl Harbor and George wasn’t impressed that I was,” one of the men, Paul Perrault, 90, told the Times about his friend Anthony “George” Mark, 87. As the Times writes:
“They speak of the war only when asked and are quick to quash any allusions to bravery or heroism. They are survivors, they say… nothing more. It was all a matter of chance — the same force that would lead them to modest homes that sit side by side on a quiet street.”
But in New Jersey, The Star-Ledger writes of a survivor who chose to devote much of his life “to preserving the day’s memory.” Tom Mahoney, 88, says “the day should be a remembrance of all the sacrifices. …We should always remember our country’s vigilance, no matter how many of us there are left.”
Meanwhile, the Honolulu Star Advertiser says the National Park Service is “about to finalize a $63.2 million plan to relate the history of the ‘Day of Infamy’ in greater detail and complexity — and with greater convenience for visitors — as the number of aged survivors who can tell it themselves dwindles. Today, the 69th anniversary of the attack, the second half of a new campuslike visitor center and a new museum dedicated to that mission will be opened.”
— adapted from NPR
Statement from President Barack Obama at 1:01 PM ET 12/7/2010:
In honor of all who have borne the cost of battle throughout America’s history, let us pledge to meet our debt of honor and uphold the ideals they fought to preserve. The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”
Let us never forget the innocent blood shed by those wonderful American citizens on December 7, 1941. –Tara and April