PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii
Some 60,000 United States military personnel were stationed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on December 7, 1941 when forces of the Japanese Empire attacked. Some 2,402 servicemen and women died that day.
As the 70th anniversary of the “Day of Infamy” arrived in 2011, it was interesting to note that fewer and fewer of the attack’s survivors were still alive. The youngest of them was about 88 years of age.
No exact estimate was given as to the number of Pearl Harbor survivors who were still alive in 2011. A surprisingly large number of them, however, planned to attend a week’s worth of commemorations here. (Many showed up last year for the dedication of a new visitor center.)
Optimistic calculations put the number of survivors in 2011 at no more than 2,700 (check out their website). The march of time will no doubt winnow that number significantly by the time the 75th anniversary rolls around in 2016.
Vin Scully, the legendary announcer of the Los Angeles Dodgers, makes a point of telling his listeners each year that Americans don’t do enough to remember and recognize the heroes of World War II. He specifically mentions D-Day 1944 in his June 6 broadcasts each summer. I was reminded this past Veterans Day, November 11, of my time with the 3rd Army in Baghdad; I was saddened to learn my old unit had been sent over for a fourth tour of duty – something the Army had earlier promised them they would not do.
It is sobering to recall the events of that sad day so many years ago; but the reminders, such as the stark memorial to the sunken USS Arizona, will remain long after the last survivor is gone.
Please take a moment on Pearl Harbor Day – this year and every year – to have your own remembrance.
December 2, 2011