Pearl Harbor Remembered, 70 Years Later
Posted by Jason Hansman on December 7
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It's a day to remember the more than 2,400 Americans who perished on that early Sunday morning in 1941. It's also a day to remember its survivors and the legacy of the over 16 million Americans — the Greatest Generation — who answered the call to serve in its aftermath.
My grandfather Harold Hansman was one of them.
A young sailor, he was assigned to the USS Selfridge (DD-357) docked at Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. He survived the initial attacks and after Pearl Harbor continued his naval service throughout the Pacific theater. When he came home, he returned with a Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds received when Japanese Kamikazes sank his destroyer, the USS Little (DD-803), off the coast of Okinawa in May 1945.
I never got a chance to talk to my grandfather veteran to veteran. He passed away when I was 16. I was still too young then to truly appreciate his service to our country. And I never asked him the questions I wish I now could as a veteran of these recent wars.
But looking around me at my own band of brothers and sisters, I know this truth: as my grandfather's generation passes on, it's critical we stop and commit their history and sacrifice to memory. We need to read their journeys in their books, letters and photographs. We need to watch their stories on film. And, for those of us who can, we need to absorb firsthand the accounts of that era from its last living warriors.
As Iraq draws down this month, in many ways I feel like I'm walking in stride with my grandfather today - lucky enough to be able to see my war's end just as he did in 1945. After ten years, I'm ready to look forward. Most of all, I'm eternally grateful that his generation has left mine — a New Greatest Generation — with such an incredible legacy and example to live up to.
May we never forget.
Jason Hansman is IAVA’s Acting Membership Director and responsible for maintaining and growing Community of Veterans, the first and largest social network exclusively for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. A native of Seattle Washington, he deployed to Iraq from 2004-05 with the Army Reserves as a Civil Affairs Sergeant.
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