Panetta to Honor Pearl
Harbor Dead, Salutes Attack Survivors
By Jim Garamone
Decembers 6, 2011
survivors represent the best of America and serve as role models for the
current generation that responded to another deadly surprise attack,
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a message issued today to
Pearl Harbor veterans.
Tomorrow, Panetta will place a wreath at the Navy Memorial here to
remember the more than 3,500 Americans killed or wounded in the Japanese
attack 70 years ago.
President Barack Obama signed a proclamation today naming tomorrow
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and urged all Americans to fly
their flags at half staff in memory of those killed that day.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor galvanized an American public that
had been leaning toward isolationism. “Our enemies thought that by this
sudden and deliberate raid, they could weaken America,” Panetta said in
his message. “Instead, they only strengthened it. That day truly awoke a
President Franklin D. Roosevelt said Dec. 7, 1941 was “a date which will
live in infamy” in asking Congress to declare war on the Empire of
Japan. On Dec. 11, 1941, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on
the United States. The United States mobilized for the global conflict.
“In the memories of that day, we continue to draw determination and
conviction to protect our freedoms, to sacrifice for our fellow
citizens, and to serve a purpose larger than self,” Panetta said. “You,
the survivors of Pearl Harbor and of the war that followed, embody this
conviction, this determination to raise high the torch of freedom and
The stories and records of the World War II generation are entering
legend, and with around 3,000 living Pearl Harbor survivors, this
anniversary is poignant.
“You have lived full lives and witnessed years of great prosperity
because of the freedom you helped to secure for America and her allies,”
the secretary continued. “I know you take great pride, as I do, that
your legacy lives on in today’s men and women in uniform, who have borne
the burden of a decade of war, and who are truly this nation’s next
the Pearl Harbor survivors, the young men and women of the 9/11
generation stepped forward for military duty after another sudden and
terrible attack on American shores. Today’s service members emulate the
spirit of the generation that placed the American flag at the Elbe River
in Germany, and raised it atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima
in the Pacific.
“We treasure you,” Panetta said in his message to Pearl Harbor veterans.
“You have brought everlasting credit to your fallen comrades. Your
example inspires those in uniform today, strengthens our nation's moral
fiber, and proves that with united resolve our country can surmount any
Panetta thanked the veterans -- most now in their late 80s and 90s --
for their sacrifices “and for your endless zeal to see to it that our
children and grandchildren can pass along a better life to the next
“This has always been the American dream, a dream we can realize because
of the determination of our citizens to defend it,” Panetta said.