On Thursday, President Donald Trump took time to honor those who died during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
With six surviving veterans of the attack standing beside him, Trump signed a proclamation for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
“These are great men,” Trump said of the veterans as he began his remarks from the White House. “On this day 76 years ago, more than 2,000 Americans were killed in surprise attack on our homeland. Hundreds more were injured. Battleships, cruisers, destroyers and aircraft carriers in our Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor suffered crippling losses.”
“We were at war,” he said.
“Everyone knows about it,” he explained. “But these folks,” Trump added, pointing to the veterans beside him, “know about it more than anybody.”
“They’re heroes and they’re living witnesses to American history. All Americans hearts are filled with gratitude for their service, their sacrifice and their presence here today,” Trump said.
Calling them “very special men,” he noted that “they were among the very first Americans to fight back in the Second World War.”
Trump talked about each of the veterans, then said, “I ask that God continue to bless and watch over each of you as very, very special people to our country.”
“And God is watching over you,” the president concluded. “Our surviving World War II veterans are a precious, national treasure.”
Seventy-six years ago Thursday, the U.S. was left in shock after Japanese warplanes carried out a surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base. A total of 2,3335 American military personnel perished in the attack, the vast majority of whom were with the Navy.
Nearly half — 1,177 — of the casualties came from the USS Arizona, which was sunk during the attack.
Sixty-eight civilians were also killed.
The attack was the decisive factor that led the U.S. to enter World War II, a conflict that would not end until September 1945, over three years later.
“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.,” then-President Franklin Roosevelt said in an address to Congress the day after the attack.
“As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken in for our defense. Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us,” he added later in the speech.
“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory,” he said. “I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.”
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