On Dec. 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time, the Japanese Empire launched a brutal attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet, anchored in Pearl Harbor. The attack claimed the lives of more than 2,400 American servicemen – 1,200 of whom remain entombed within the sunken USS Arizona at the bottom of Pearl Harbor – drawing the United States into World War II.
Soon after the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress, calling for an official declaration of war and labeling Dec. 7, 1941, as a “date which will live in infamy.”
This morning, VFW Washington Office staff joined Congressional leaders and Pearl Harbor survivors in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building to reflect on the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The event was organized by students from American University and brought together Pearl Harbor survivors Jay Groff and his wife, Kay, Steve Krawczyk and Daniel Curts, who shared their experiences and discussed the significance of remembering Pearl Harbor, and the men and women who gave their lives during the attack.
For veterans’ advocates, this year’s anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor is particularly somber because it marks the end of an era in American history with the formal dissolution of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, effective Dec. 31, 2011. Founded in 1958, the Congressionally-chartered organization once counted more than 18,000 veterans among its ranks. Over time, that number has dwindled to fewer than 3,000, making official business difficult to conduct and prompting organizational leaders to officially dissolve the organization at the end of this calendar year.
“We applaud the service and proud history of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, many members of which the VFW has proudly counted among our ranks over the past seven decades,” said VFW Legislative Director Ray Kelley, who was on hand for the Capitol Hill event. “The historical significance of December 7, 1941, must never be forgotten, which is why the VFW will continue to reflect on these attacks and honor the sacrifices of our nation’s Greatest Generation long after the last Pearl Harbor survivor passes on.”
VFW posts and members around the world also commemorated the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor today, to include VFW National Commander Richard L. DeNoyer, who attended ceremonies and laid a wreath on the USS Arizona Memorial this morning. If you would like to share how your Post remembered Pearl Harbor Day, please e-mail your photos and stories to the VFW Action Corps at firstname.lastname@example.org.