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Thursday, Sep. 29, 2016

The 70th Anniversary of a Date That Lives in Infamy

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941--a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan... No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people will through their righteous might win through to absolute victory... With confidence in our armed forces-with the unbounded determination of our people-we will gain the inevitable triumph-so help us God. I, therefore, ask that the Congress declare that since the dastardly and unprovoked attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."

-- President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dec. 8, 1941, in his speech asking Congress to declare war on Japan

"To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all!... Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder."

-- English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, writing in a memoir about his reaction to FDR's telephone call to inform him of the attack

It can be hard for those of us born after WW II, to comprehend the impact that the attack on Pearl Harbor made on the American people as a whole. One would have to look to the impact of 9-11 to truly gauge the emotional toll this attack inflicted upon the American psyche.

In Oahu, a new visitor center is open for the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack and activities are planned to mark the day.

Over 100 veterans of the attack will be on hand for activities, symposiums, tributes and two military burials for recently deceased survivors of the Arizona and the Utah battleships.

My great-uncle, "Black Jack" Wattendorf, was on board the U.S.S. Missouri for Japan's surrender at the end of the war. It was a moment he often reflected on as one of his proudest, because, "It meant we got justice for those who were ruthlessly murdered on Dec. 7, 1941."

But I look at the attack, and the memories of those who lived and fought that day, as an amazing canvas of hope. On that fateful morning, Dec. 7, 1941, everyone united. Civilian employees helped load and clean weapons, wounded men fought on, doctors from miles away rushed to the scene and -- when blood donations were needed -- donors stood in line for almost seven hours to do their part.

Our American Spirit rose up and pushed on through the surrounding adversity, to fight side by side against a common foe.

"The American spirit wears no political label. In service to others and yes, in sacrifice for our country, there are no Republicans; there are no Democrats; there are only Americans."

-- Senator John Kerry