Remembering Pearl harbor: 75 years

Remembering Pearl harbor: 75 years

From State Representative Deborah Ferguson This week, our country will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack that began World War II and forever changed the course of history.

Just before 8 a.m. on December 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaii. The barrage lasted just two hours, but it was devastating: The Japanese destroyed 20 American naval vessels and more than 300 airplanes. More than 2,000 American soldiers and sailors died in the attack.

Among them were 23 Arkansans who were aboard the USS Arizona.

The day after the assault, President Franklin D.

Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan and Congress approved.

The 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor is an opportunity to honor the sacrifice and dedication of our 'Greatest Generation' both civilian and military. They endured incredible sacrifices on December 7, 1941, the 'date which will live in infamy.' The events of that date triggered our resolve as a nation, our cando attitude and an unmatched commitment to the defense of freedom.

I had the honor of visiting Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona several years ago. It was a humbling experience and one that I reflect on quite often.

The attack set in motion a series of events that changed the course of history.

During World War II, an estimated 194,645 Arkansans served in various branches of the U.S. armed forces.

At that time, that was about 10% of the population of our state. My father in-law served as I’m sure many of your parents and grandparents did.

The war changed our state in ways that we still feel today. Half of our school teachers at the time left the profession to work in war time industries. After the war, 40,000 Arkansans left the state. It was two more decades before the population of Arkansas grew to pre-war census numbers.

On this Pearl Harbor Day, let us all take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by this generation. Every American, even those who did not serve in the armed forces, were affected by the events of Pearl Harbor.

You can find out more about this history of the day and events going on nationwide at www.pearlharbor75thanniversary. com.

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