MOLLIE S. WATERS/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
Yesterday, Dec. 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.”
Those words were spoken by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt the day after Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, which was not yet a state, was attacked by the Japanese in an event that stunned the world and ushered the USA into World War II.
Roosevelt’s words were prophetic; for 75 years after the tragic event that left an estimated 2,400 people dead, the day is still remembered for its losses as well as the acts of heroism shown by many that day.
According to the Pearl Harbor Visitors Bureau website, “The total number of military personnel killed was 2,335, including 2,008 navy personnel, 109 marines, and 218 army. Added to this were 68 civilians, making the total 2403 people dead. 1,177 were from the ‘USS Arizona’. The number of wounded came to 1,143 with 710 navy, 69 marines and 364 army, as well as 103 civilians. Total Japanese personnel losses were 55 men.”
According to pearl-harbor.com, of the 1,177 men who died on the “USS Arizona,” 30 of them were from Alabama, including two brothers, Charles and Melvin Murdock. Their brother Thomas, who was also stationed at Pearl Harbor during the attacks, survived.
One of the great acts of heroisms recounted from that day is the story of Doris “Dorie” Miller, the first African American to receive the Navy Cross, which is awarded for courage under fire.
The National Geographic website credits Miller, whose story was partially told in the 2001 film “Pearl Harbor” with actor Cuba Gooding, Jr, playing Miller, as helping to bring down at least one Japanese bomber. Regrettably, Miller died less than two years later when the carrier he was on, the “USS Liscome Bay,” was torpedoed on Nov. 24, 1943.
Each year, survivors from Pearl Harbor return to the location where so many of their friends and fellow armed servicemen and women lost their lives. Because so much time has passed since that terrible day 75 years ago, the number who return continues to dwindle each year.
The survivors are now in their 90s, and last year, according to “The Sacramento Bee” newspaper website, only about two dozen made the trip.
This year, special events commemorating the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor’s bombing will be held throughout the country.