Honoring fallen heroes on attackā€™s anniversary

Published on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 by Earl Erickson

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December 7, 2011 was the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that this date will remain in “infamy” to all U.S. citizens. The Japanese ambassador to the U.S. was found to be deceitful about Japanese/American relations.

I remember that date vividly in my memory. I was a young lad of 10 doing farm chores on my father’s dairy farm. If I did a good job, I was allowed to listen to a battery radio for one hour. My favorite quarter-hour programs were from 4 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Suddenly my programs were interrupted by a special news bulletin. President Roosevelt was calling Congress back into session in Washington, D.C., by trains, buses and cars to declare war on Japan.

Our daily lives changed nationwide to support the war effort. Factories converted to produce tanks, guns and jeeps to support military needs. People volunteered to help. A war ration board was established to ration gas, food, tires and other items needed for the war effort. People invested in war bonds to finance the military needs. Slogans like “Uncle Sam needs your help” caused people to sacrifice and do their part. Women worked in aircraft factories as “Rosie the Riveter” because men either enlisted or were drafted into the military.

Patriotism and conservation was your duty for four years. We lived through it and felt good about what we had done for our country. The freedoms we enjoy today were brought about by having a strong military presence that has continued throughout the decades to today. The “greatest generation” of people and veterans are slowly fading away. They are what made this country great. It is called American ingenuity.

President Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Over 1,177 Marines and sailors are entombed in the ship USS Arizona, which was sunk and lies on the bottom of Pearl Harbor bay. They never had a chance to defend themselves. Just 1,158 survived. Overall, 2,350 people lost their lives that day. A permanent memorial is placed over the Arizona’s final resting place.

The war came to a quick ending on August 15, 1945, after a B29 Bomber named the “Enola Gay” dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. The plane was made by Boeing in Seattle and now rests in the Smithsonian Museum.
I have stood on the top deck of the ship USS Missouri where the surrender and peace documents were signed by both nations on September 2, 1945. That ship is now berthed in Hawaii.

I am an 80-year veteran who pays homage each Memorial Day to comrades that have gone on to the “Post Everlasting.” It is the least we can do to honor our fallen heroes for the sacrifices they endured.