A small boat rescues a USS West Virginia crew member from the water after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. Two men can be seen on the superstructure, upper center. The mast of the USS Tennessee is beyond the burning West Virginia.
Seventy-one years ago today, Japan attacked America at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The attack, which killed 2,403 Americans and wounded more than 1,000, dragged the United States into World War II.
The significance of this day cannot be overstated. On Dec. 7, 1941, much of the world was at war with the German Nazis in Europe and the Japanese in China. The Pearl Harbor attacks hastened the inevitable - U.S. involvement in World War II.
It was the war that was started just 20 years after the war to end all wars. Sadly, neither World War I nor II lived up to that phrase as members of the U.S. armed forces have died on many battlefields since then and Americans have been attacked at home, on Sept. 11, 2001.
Yet the scope of World War II cannot be ignored. It was a war that touched every continent. It was a war that galvanized the American public, as 16 million Americans served in the armed forces and millions more supported the effort stateside. It was a war in which more 400,000 Americans died in service to their country.
Remembering the Pearl Harbor anniversary makes us realize, too, that the number of those who witnessed the carnage is dwindling. That's why we mark this day. As the ranks of those who were there start to fade, it is incumbent upon us to remind the generations current and past about the sacrifices made on their behalf.