Pearl Harbor’s 80th anniversary: Veterans share why America must ‘unite’ today


As the nation marks the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack against America by Japan on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, veterans around the country shared their thoughts and insights with Fox News Digital, noting the significance of the event all these decades later.  

“When we’re united as a country, we cannot be defeated,” one New York-based veteran, a father of four, told Fox News Digital. “That’s my takeaway. What happened after Pearl Harbor shows that when we stand together, we cannot be beat.”

He added, “A lot of young guys enlisted during World War II to be part of the war effort. Many of them were even underage. They wanted to help this country — to help our country. They wanted us to win. There was a feeling of unity toward a common goal.”  

American ships burn during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo. (AP Photo, File)

American ships burn during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in this Dec. 7, 1941 file photo. (AP Photo, File)
(AP)

This same veteran, who served during the Vietnam era, also said, “And if we don’t unite today, we will certainly fall.”

The Pearl Harbor attack against the United States was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, at 7:48 a.m. local time, eighty years ago to this day. That attack led to America’s entry into World War II in the Pacific and European theaters. The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including eight battleships, according to the National World War II Museum. 

A day after the attack, on Dec. 8, 1941, the US declared war on Japan. (The war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945; later that year, on Sept. 2, 1945, formal surrender documents were signed.) 

A military honor guard drapes a US flag over the casket of Marine Corps, Pfc. John Franklin Middleswart at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on June 8, 2021, in San Diego, Ca., eighty years after he died in the attack on Pearl Harbor and just months after his remains were finally identified, the Union-Tribune reported. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)

A military honor guard drapes a US flag over the casket of Marine Corps, Pfc. John Franklin Middleswart at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on June 8, 2021, in San Diego, Ca., eighty years after he died in the attack on Pearl Harbor and just months after his remains were finally identified, the Union-Tribune reported. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)

Jeremiah Martin, a US Army veteran from Shelby, Ohio, told Fox News Digital, “The response to the attack on Pearl Harbor represents an American legacy — a legacy of courageous men and women willing to stand up and defend liberty at home and abroad. It’s because the Greatest Generation was willing to stand up to tyranny abroad that my family is able to live in peace and prosperity here at home today.”

Martin added, “I served overseas in the Army in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve. Today, 80 years after Pearl Harbor, I’m proud to be a part of a longstanding legacy. It’s my hope and prayer that the ‘sleeping giant’ that was awakened 80 years ago will still have the courage, will, and fortitude to pursue peace through strength for generations to come.”

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Another veteran, this one based in Maryland, told Fox News Digital, “As a veteran, it is apparent to me that after 80 years, the world made real by the attack on Pearl Harbor has almost passed into history. But yet again, we look to the Pacific for challenge and opportunity.” He added with concern, “More American military may once again set foot on those shores, rifle in hand.”

Said a Navy veteran in New York state, “The pride that people had in the military — and in joining the military — after Pearl Harbor no longer exists, in my opinion. Which is a shame.”

A veteran who is based in Virginia shared this comment with Fox News Digital about the Pearl Harbor attack: “We should never forget history or those who were part of the Greatest Generation, who fought during World War II and who sacrificed so much for their country.”

More shared their stories and comments as well. Thomas Drake of Westchester County, New York, is the son of a World War II veteran, Keith Drake, who was at Iowa Jima. Thomas Drake spoke to Fox News Digital about his Virginia-born father, Keith Drake, as well as his own four years of service as a hospital corpsman in the Navy. 

“My father’s service is one of the main reasons I enlisted in the service myself, once I was eligible,” said Drake. “I entered the service at age 19. My father’s selfless service to his country at such a young age as well, knowing that he would possibly be sacrificing his life during a conflict, is what inspired me to serve my country and join the Navy.”

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Drake added about his dad, “He was a radio man on his ship, so he was aware of everything that was happening ahead of time, and he had to relay that information to his commanding officer. He didn’t talk much [to his family later] about his service. But we still have the diary he kept — he was a bit of an amateur writer. And he kept track of all the men who came back, and all the men who didn’t.”

Navy veteran Drake also said, “I’m proud of my father.”

Said another Navy veteran, H.C. Felder, who is based in Charlotte, N.C., “Pearl Harbor forced this nation to look in the mirror and discover who it was. I thank God every day that they made the choice to fight against an enemy that would have destroyed freedom as we know it.” 

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Felder added, “The bloodshed that day was not in vain, but served as the catalyst for the destruction of tyranny and ensured the freedom of millions for generations.”

Brian Huffling, an Air Force and Marine veteran in Statesboro, Ga., told Fox News Digital, “The 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor is a reminder of not only the attack on the US, but also the resolve and dedication of the American people.” 

He added, “It was this Greatest Generation that fought for democracy and freedom — and which still inspires us today to fight for those same ideals.” 

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