East Idaho military veterans and advocates reflect on Pearl Harbor Day

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center). Other battleships moored nearby are (from left): Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee (inboard of West Virginia), Oklahoma (torpedoed and listing) alongside Maryland, and California. On the near side of Ford Island, to the left, are light cruisers Detroit and Raleigh, target and training ship Utah and seaplane tender Tangier. Raleigh and Utah have been torpedoed, and Utah is listing sharply to port. Japanese planes are visible in the right center (over Ford Island) and over the Navy Yard at right. Japanese writing in the lower right states that the photograph was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — In the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and holiday traditions, another nationally recognized day passes by while people count down the days until Christmas.

“[Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day] is a day that we reflect back and all my friends look at that day,” Bob Skinner, commander for the State of Idaho American Legion, told KID NewsRadio. “We lost a lot of people.”

On December 7, 1941, Japanese soldiers attacked Pearl Harbor, prompting a reluctant United States to enter World War II’s conflict. But, Skinner said, a once reluctant nation banded together under the cause of defending freedom.

“Everybody pulled together throughout the nation to win the war,” Skinner said. “It was a sleeping giant that they woke up, and we were, everybody pulling in the same direction and there was a great effort by our country.”

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, 2,335 American serviceman died. By the end of the war, almost 417,000 military service members had been killed while defending their country, according to the Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Bureau.

Others came home from war; some wounded, some battling internal wars of their own, many would simply reply to accolades and gratitude for their service with a simple, “I was just doing my job.”

This shrinking group of veterans, eyewitnesses to one of the world’s greatest conflicts, were called the “Greatest Generation,” by news anchor Tom Brokaw. Skinner said there aren’t too many of that generation left; making each passing Pearl Harbor Day, and every other day set aside to recognize the men and women of the United States military, all the more important. Frank Smith, who also works with American Legion Post 56, told KID NewsRadio

“Most of them wear either Pearl Harbor hats or World War II hats,” Frank Smith said. “If you happen to see an older gentleman or lady that had served, I think we should all really honor them, appreciate them and thank them for our freedoms.”