MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - 72 years ago, the United States under went one of the country’s most devastating moments since it was founded … Dec. 7, 1941, a date which would live in infamy, said Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States, in a speech after the Pearl Harbor bombing.
Pearl Harbor was attacked by Imperial Japanese forces in 1941. The attack destroyed more than 20 American ships, which were moored in the harbor. This in return sparked America’s involvement in World War II.
“I was 16 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor,” said Jack Dedrick, a WWII veteran, who currently resides at the Veterans Home of California Barstow. “I remember it being a typical Sunday. Everyone over there was just relaxing, going to worship their religions, and getting ready for the week.”
He further explained the attack was a big surprise on the U.S. and no one expected it to happen. Just the thought of the attack leaves him speechless even up to this day.
“I remember watching the television in my living room and seeing ships being blown up, men on those ships fighting for their lives and people dying,” said Dedrick. “That gave me the drive to join and that’s why I wanted to fight for the country.”
Marguerite Arendsen, a WWII Coast Guard veteran who also lives at the Veterans Home of California Barstow, also recalls the attack.
“I was about to turn 21 when they attacked,” said Arendsen. “I remember the sadness that it brought upon my community. I also remember blue stars turn to gold stars. Friends I went to high school with weren’t coming home.”
The stars were placed in the front windows of families who had a loved on serving overseas. Changing the star from blue to gold signified they lost their life fighting for the country, said Arendsen.
“When I joined, I felt like it was the right thing to do at the time. That’s where (I felt) I was supposed to be,” said Arendsen.
Every year since the attack, veteran homes, churches, military installations, and communities remember this day and give those men and women who died for their country recognition for what they went through, said Dedrick.
“We have a ceremony at the veterans home (every year),” said Dedrick. “I always go to remember those men and I say a prayer for them and thank them for their service.”
He wishes that the younger generation would take a moment on this day to remember those who fought and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
However, not everybody pays respects to Pearl Harbor in the same fashion, said Dedrick.
Arendsen has gone to the USS Arizona memorial in Honolulu, twice in her life.
“I have gone to that memorial twice in my life,” said the Kentucky native. “Both times I have gone, there were large groups of people. The room with all of the names on the walls was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. That’s how much it moves people.”
Every time Dec. 7 comes around, she becomes sad … she remembers the lives lost on that fateful day, she added.
December 7, 1941 was a tragic and significant event in the country’s history; it will always be remembered by Americans across the U.S., concluded Arendsen.