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A Day to Remember


This Memorial Day, we take time to remember all the men who fought so bravely and valiantly for our country. We will not forget the service they gave our country, especially those who paid the ultimate price. Every American soldier gave some, but some gave all. Today is a reminder that freedom is not free, and thankfulness should be a priority for the sacrifices made by these brave men and women.

Story- It’s December 7, 1941. The time is 0754. Twenty-six-year-old Petty Officer First Class Joseph Leon George is present on the USS Vestal. The USS Vestal is a repair ship for the battleships it is moored by. The clock ticks, but not a soldier could predict the awful sight that will ensue in a few short seconds. The minute hand strikes 0755. Without warning, the terrible drone of 183 Japanese dive bombers and torpedo planes thunder overhead, casting a deadly shadow over Pearl Harbor and the fleet of ships. A series of armor-piercing missiles drop, followed by the huge bang of an explosive magazine. Joseph L. George hit the floor of the USS Vestal. From where he lay, he could feel the heat of the blast, and he felt the aftershock. Air raid sirens alarmed as more missiles whizzed through the air. Next to the USS Vestal was the sinking USS Arizona. Because of the magazine explosion in the hull of the Arizona, the battleship was splitting in half and rapidly sinking. Joseph L. George watched as Pearl Harbor and the Naval Base went up in flames. From the corner of his eye, he saw 6 sailors trapped in the control center of the USS Arizona. Trapped by fire and water, the men tried to find a way to escape. Thinking fast, Joseph L. George threw them a line and kept it there even though he was instructed to cut all lines between the USS Arizona and the USS Vestal. Hand over hand, all six sailors climbed safely to the USS Vestal.

Many stories of the bravery and valor of the men and women who freed our country can be found in this singular tragic event in the United States of America’s history. Few were recognized for what they did. Today, we honor not only the men and women who went above the call of duty but also those who paid the ultimate price. More than 2,000 US sailors and personnel were lost that fateful day in Pearl Harbor. But this was just the gloomy foreshadowing of the soldiers we would lose throughout the next four years. America would proclaim war on Japan the next day, and on December 11, 1941, would proclaim war on Germany. Although many were lost, the darkness was brightened by the valiant deeds of bravery throughout the following war.

Whether you believe what we fought over was moral, just, or right doesn’t matter. Men gave their limbs, sanity, and lives for us and for our country. Today, we should take the time to thank every veteran and hold the memory of those who have paid the ultimate price close to our hearts.

Blue Skies,




Joe George, National Park Service Staff,

Remembering Pearl Harbor: A Pearl Harbor Fact Sheet, The National WWII Museum Staff

Photo Credits:

(1)- By New York Naval Shipyard - U.S. Navy photo NH 43621, Public Domain,

(2)- Joe George, National Park Service Staff,


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