Dec. 7 (UPI) — Americans across the country attended ceremonies Friday to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii 77 years ago that killed more than 2,400 people.
For the first time since the bombardment in 1941, no survivors of the sinking of the USS Arizona were on hand for the ceremony in Hawaii at the Pacific National Monument. Hundreds of others gathered there, though, for the event marking the moment the first bombs and shots were fired at 7:50 a.m.
Jacqueline Ashwell, superintendent of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, said that though the five remaining survivors of the USS Arizona weren’t there, the United States would not forget their sacrifice, nor the sacrifice of other World War II veterans.
“For so long as there is a United States of America, a flag will fly over the USS Arizona Memorial and the National Park Service will continue to tell your story,” she said. “Your unconquerable spirits will live forever.”
Of the 1,500 people on board the battleship when it was sunk, about 300 survived. Five still live, all unable to travel due to age or illness — Lauren Bruner, 98; Lou Conter, 97; Lonnie Cook, 98; Ken Potts, 97; and Don Stratton, 96.
Another 429 died on the USS Oklahoma and overall, 1,000 people were injured when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
“Once all these Pearl Harbor survivors are gone, and the people who knew them are gone, we’re going to have lost this last living connection,” World War II author Michael Wenger told Hawaii News Now.
In Washington, D.C., others gathered at the National World War II Memorial to lay a wreath at the Freedom Wall to honor the more than 400,000 U.S. troops who died in World War II. The United States’ entry into the war was the direct result of Pearl Harbor.
President Donald Trump, who traveled to Kansas to speak at a violent crime conference, was not on hand for events in the capital, but proclaimed the day as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
“Today, we honor those who perished 77 years ago at Pearl Harbor, and we salute every veteran who served in World War II over the 4 years that followed that horrific attack. God Bless America!” he tweeted.