PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA/AP) – Today marks the 75th anniversary of the day President Franklin Roosevelt said would “live in infamy.”
It was on Dec. 7, 1941 that Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, drawing the United States into World War II. Today, survivors are gathering to honor the more than 2,300 service people killed in the raid.
Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Heinz History Center, tells “The KDKA Morning News” that like the rest of the nation, Pittsburgh was taken by surprise after the attack.
“Americans felt like they had been sucker punched by Japan. It came out the the blue… and people in Pittsburgh were outraged by this,” Masich said.
There was an anti-war rally going on in Pittsburgh at Soldiers and Sailors Hall in Oakland on Dec. 7, 1941, called ‘America First,’ and once word of the attack got to event, Masich says, “People tripped over each other trying to get out the door to go to the recruiting offices to join up. It was a game changer. The mood of America changed like flipping a switch.”
Once the war started, Masich says Pittsburgh and the rest of Pennsylvania played a vital role in war effort.
“The whole keystone state was like an arsenal. It was producing more steel than all the Axis powers put together – Germany, Italy, Japan. Pennsylvania was cranking out more steel than all of them put together,” says Masich.
The Senator John Heinz History Center is honoring the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with an American Flag folding ceremony.
For more information, visit the Heinz History Center’s website at this link.
Listen to the “KDKA Morning News” Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020.
At Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland, World War II veteran Robert Gale makes his way toward the foot of the exterior steps, where ROTC members await the lowering of the flag.
“Soldiers and Sailors is a place of memories,” curator Michael Kraus announces. “We stand to honor them, and countless others who served in World War II.>”
The American flag is lowered by ROTC cadet Leo Hill, as fellow cadet Alexandra Russell salutes, and old soldier Robert Gale remembers. 2,403 men and women lost their lives at Pearl Harbor. The flag flies at half staff for all of them.
“Unfortunately, the generation is passing, and we want to carry their memory with us,” Michael Kraus explains.
The lessons of Pearl Harbor are remembered by generations that follow.
“We realize that there have been moments of weakness in America’s defense that have ultimately led to a lot of loss, and that this is an example, the entrance to World War II,” Cadet Russell says. “I think it’s really important to realize that with the great comes the bad, and we need to prepare for this and move forward.”
Cadet Hill concurs.
“We remember that, again, as a day of infamy, so that we must assure that nothing like that happens on our home soil again.”
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