My father was the last Pearl Harbor survivor here in Riverton, so I had a close relationship to the actual events.
We took my father back to Pearl in 2011 for the 70th anniversary. He hadn't been back in many years, and I think it was the best thing we could have done for him.
I had purchased a new hat for him to wear. Talk about a difference! When we would walk down the street, people would come up and shake his hand and thank him for his service, then stand and listen as he would tell them what happened. Everywhere this would happen. On the plane, they clapped for him, people just crowded around him all the time. It was like being with a celebrity. In his own way, I think he was. He told me "they never treated us like this before." I told him everyone's attitudes are changing concerning this and other wars, and to just enjoy it.
My father always said he didn't consider himself a hero. When the Japanese attacked, he was at Schofield Barracks for their Sunday breakfast. He said they couldn't even go back to get guns because they had no ammunition. No way to defend themselves. He felt because of this and because of those that lost their lives in this attack, he was not a hero.
I told him the fact that he did survive was enough. Anyone that goes through a traumatic time like this and is able to live until the age of 89 is more than a hero in my eyes.
They had more than 150 survivors at the 70th. From what I've read, they only had 50 attend the 72nd reunion in December. We are slowly losing our heroes every day.
I hope all of our Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, Korean and all the other veterans are never forgotten and the fact that they fought and some gave their lives for us are remembered each and every day. Even if some didn't see actual battle, they were willing to do so if called upon.
I just wonder how many of our men would come if called now. I know our vets would, no matter what age.
God bless all of them. God bless our Pearl Harbor survivors, and God bless the United States of America. It's the best country in the world to live in.