December 07, 2014

December 7 a Reminder of Who We Are as Americans | Wheeling Intelligencer

Seventy-three years later, America still remembers the "date which will live in infamy." It was the first phrase pronounced to the world by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the wake of one of America's greatest tragedies, which has since engraved itself in history forever. December 7, 1941 will always mark the date that 2,403 American lives were lost when Japan led a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. It is a day that evoked fear and uncertainty across our nation and catapulted the United States into a Second World War.

Yet while December 7, 1941 will forever be shrouded in pain and darkness, we must remind ourselves that from the horror and sorrow of that day also comes resolve and strength as a nation. Pearl Harbor is also known as a day in which Americans proved that when faced with adversity, we are not only resilient, but we will come together and become even stronger as a united front.

On that fateful December morning, there was no greater symbolism of American resilience than U.S.S. West Virginia, one of the four battleships that sank in Pearl Harbor. The U.S.S. West Virginia took seven torpedoes hits and was targeted by Japanese planes more than any other ship. By the time enemy fire ceased, the ship had sunk 40 feet into the depths of the harbor.

Plans to rebuild the ship began a week after the attack, but the battleship was considered a low priority because of the severe damage it suffered. Many believed the U.S.S. West Virginia would never again be salvaged. Even so, after six months, the battleship was pumped out and raised.

Three years later, the naval ship had been completely restored, modernized, and sailed again to see combat. In fact, the U.S.S. West Virginia proved to play an instrumental role in the very last naval battle of World War II, the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Unleashing its fury on Japanese ships, working with veteran Pearl Harbor battleships, supporting underwater demolition teams, and protecting ally troops ashore, the U.S.S. West Virginia found reprisal in helping to end the vicious war.

This great ship that proudly represents the Mountain State is a symbol of the American people. The ship's story reveals that even in those moments when we are shaken to the core, we should never lose hope. Like the American people, the U.S.S. West Virginia signifies that while we may face difficult times, they also become the moments we remember the most, defining who we are and what we are made of.

Today, we pay homage to those brave Americans who sacrificed their lives on that infamous December morning. We will never forget their service and sacrifice, always remembering those lost not only in our hearts, but also in the way we live our lives.

Let us never forget those who came before us, and lived and died for this nation. And let us always mark dates like December 7, 1941 as the times we remember who we are as a nation and the strength of American resilience.

By:  By Joe Manchin