WASHINGTON – On the 70th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War II, the men and women of the Department of Veterans Affairs salute the members of “America’s greatest generation” for their sacrifice, love of country and concern for their fellow Veterans.
“Pearl Harbor reminds us not only of a solemn chapter in American history, but also of the great courage and resolve displayed by stalwart defenders in fighting off the attackers that day — qualities that have continued to define each succeeding serving generation, including today’s young men and women in uniform,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
Of the 60,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who served in Hawaii during the attack upon the U.S. fleet in Pearl Harbor and other facilities across the islands, only about 3,000 are still alive.
More than 2,000 servicemembers died as a result of the fighting on Dec. 7, 1941, and about 1,000 others were wounded, the first casualties in a four-year tally of heroism and sacrifice that would eventually result in 400,000 U.S. deaths in uniform and nearly 700,000 wounded.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs honors the memory of those who gave their lives that day, as well as those who fought and survived. Inspired by their valor and selflessness, America emerged from Pearl Harbor determined to triumph in the ensuing battle against tyranny,” said Shinseki. “At VA, we are committed to ensuring those heroes of Pearl Harbor and other fields of struggle receive the benefits and the honor they have earned.
“This 70th anniversary also marks the last formal meeting of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, which was founded in 1958 and has served all veterans and their family members with distinction over the years. The association’s motto is ‘Remember Pearl Harbor — Keep America Alert,’ and they have done so over the years.”