This Wednesday, Dec. 7 marks the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941), which – until 9/11/2001 – was known as the greatest attack on U.S. soil. We lost 2403 brave Americans serving that day. An additional 1,178 were wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk or run aground, including five battleships. Our nation was stunned by the surprise attack, as we were completely unprepared. President Franklin Roosevelt declared Dec. 7, 1941 a "date which will live in infamy." Pearl Harbor pulled America immediately into World War II.
Those who perished at Pearl Harbor remind us that the freedoms we enjoy today are not free. They come from the brave service and extraordinary sacrifice of those who serve and their families.
As the Colorado Springs Gazette just reported, the oldest living survivor of the attack, Retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing, 103, is due to speak at the Pearl Harbor anniversary ceremonies. He continues to remind us of the price of freedom.
"Keep America so strong that no tyrant will ever be tempted to attack us," said Downing, speaking before Colorado Springs middle school students just last week.
In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that less than 2 million of the original 16-million-plus Americans who served during WWII were alive. The number is now less than 900,000, including two we recently recognized, TopVet Norman Lear, who is 94, and HeroVet Sumner Redstone, who is 93.
Please take a moment to remember all of our World War II veterans.