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Pearls of the Pacific: Statement from Chairman Jeff Miller

Dec 7, 2011 Issues: Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee of Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement at 12:55 p.m. EST, as we observe a moment of silence to remember the lives lost and those wounded that morning:

“Today and tomorrow mark the 70th anniversaries of the Empire of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and the start of the Battle of Wake Island, respectively. The circumstances surrounding these events and the subsequent actions taken by the United States make this one of the most significant weeks in modern history.

“For many, Pearl Harbor signified the loss of loved ones and a feeling of vulnerability previously unfelt in America’s history. Beyond the somberness and the carnage in the Pacific that day, Pearl Harbor stands as a defining moment in American history. Few could have predicted the impact it would have on the course of our great nation.

“When the Japanese attacked, they thought it was to their benefit, but they were wrong, and as Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said, ‘they had awakened a sleeping giant and [filled] him with terrible resolve.’

“To the Japanese, Pearl Harbor was a great victory, they caught us off guard and delivered heavy blows, killing over 2,400 and wounding almost 1,300. The attack also took a devastating tollon top of the loss of innocent men and womenon our Pacific Fleet. The most notable destruction was to that of the USS Arizona. The Arizona was sunk and still lies at the bottom of the ocean. She serves as an underwater tomb for the men who perished on that tragic day. Only hours after this sudden attack, American forces on Wake Island were also attacked in a battle that ultimately claimed the lives of 820 Americans.

“Prior to December 7, 1941, some wanted to remain neutral in the growing global conflict. After Pearl and Wake, however, we could no longer stand by idly. While she did not start the war, America made sure that she would be the one to finish it.

“The next four years were spent seeking justice for those lost, protecting others from further attacks, and freeing millions under German and Japanese oppression. Our conquest was just, and in the end we made the world a better place.

“When the first plane dropped that first bomb at Pearl Harbor, America was only a shade of the superpower she would become. After the surprise attack, America rose up and fearlessly fought back, crushing the torchbearers of tyranny, and revitalizing democracy throughout much of the world.

“It is imperative that we forever remember the events that took place at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Today’s remembrance marks the first of what will be many 70th anniversaries that commemorate iconic events from World War II taking place over the next four years.

“During those four years, the ‘Greatest Generation’ left their mark on society. Americans of all ages, genders, races, religions, and ethnicities contributed to the war effort. Without their great determination and sacrifices America would not be the great country that it is today.  We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never fully be repaid, as their heroics propelled our nation into previously unchartered waters of greatness.

“As this population of heroes dwindles with each passing day, it is my hope that we are able to do everything in our power to keep their story alive. I urge you to reach out to these brave souls and learn as much as you possibly can about their extraordinary lives. As we ourselves approach perilous times in our nation’s history we must recapture the spirit and determination showed during the Second World War. In doing so, the ‘Greatest Generation’ can inspire us to remain the greatest country in the world.”