Pearl Harbor must be remembered

The American Press

For the generation of World War II, the assault on Pearl Harbor is a searing memory – a horrific attack on the United States that thrust our nation’s entry into a global battle.

Seventy-seven years ago today, Japanese bombers attacked the Hawaiian naval base. All eight battleships in the harbor were damaged, along with three cruisers and three destroyers. There were 402 aircraft in Hawaii, and 188 of them were destroyed and another 159 were damaged. A total of 2,403 Americans were killed and another 1,178 were injured.

“Think of how it was for these heroes of the Harbor — men who were also husbands, fathers, brothers, sons. Imagine the chaos of guns and smoke, flaming water and ghastly carnage,” the late President George H.W. Bush said during a 1991 Pearl Harbor commemoration. “But in this haunting place, they live forever in our memory — reminding us gently, selflessly, like chimes in the distant night.

“The men of Pearl Harbor … knew the things worth living for were also worth dying for: principle, decency, fidelity, honor,” Bush continued. “May God bless them and may God bless America, the most wondrous land on Earth.”

Dec. 7, 1941, is a date that will live in infamy, but with each passing year the memories of Pearl Harbor have become less prominent within our national consciousness. Members of The Greatest Generation — those who fought abroad and worked on the war effort here at home following the attack — are slowly leaving us.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that an average of 372 American World War II veterans have died every day of this year. It is estimated that there are fewer than 2,000 Pearl Harbor veterans still living; the national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association shuttered at the end of 2011.

Remembering the sacrifices they made and the battles they won to help give us the world we have today is critical. Every new generation has the responsibility of recognizing and remembering the generosity given by the generation before.

Just as today’s generation will forever remember Sept. 11 and earlier generations recall the moon landing and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an earlier generation was rocked by the news of Japan’s sneak attack on America. It is left to us, the subsequent generations, to ensure the legacy of these warriors are not forgotten.