Calling Dec. 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy," President Franklin D. Roosevelt told Congress one day after the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and Oahu, Hawaii: "As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us."
Today, the 76th anniversary of that attack, we remember those who fought so valiantly to defend our nation and we honor their service and sacrifice. We remember the 2,403 who lost their lives.
There were many heroes that day, including Mess Attendant Doris Miller, the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross, who attempted to save his captain from enemy fire and manned weapons without any training; Lieutenant Commander Samuel Fuqua, who braved enemy fire to pick up survivors in a commandeered boat, and Chief Petty Officer John Finn, who commandeered a machine gun and said he shot at “every damn plane I could see.” Those of you who attended our National Convention in Hawaii in 2012 heard the inspiring story of Shipfitter Sylvester Puccio, whose brave actions single-handedly saved the USS West Virginia and thousands of lives. These are just a few of the remarkable stories about that day. There are too many heroes to name here, but I encourage you to learn more about this day in our history. We honor them all.
Then-Navy League President Sheldon Clark, in an effort to make sure the organization not lose sight of its primary mission - "to spread information on and maintain public interest in the Navy" - and become a "relief" organization, used Seapower magazine as vehicle through which he could engage Navy League members and help shape public opinion.
Today we not only remember those who fought so valiantly on that day, we also honor those who have followed in their footsteps. The Navy League will remain steadfast in our mission of sea service support, education and advocacy.
Thank you for all you do on behalf and in support of our sea service men and women.