Yesterday we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This act of war was a pivotal event in world history. It was perhaps the key event leading to the entry of the United States into World War II. In this single attack 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians were killed. More than 1,178 people were wounded.
This attack had implications for more than just American soldiers. Thousands of Japanese American citizens were dramatically affected by the events of December 7th. Many of these Americans had full citizenship, yet lost all they had as they were taken to holding camps throughout the country. Jobs were lost, businesses and lands were confiscated and freedoms were taken away.
The fact that this is the 70th anniversary of the attack indicates that there are very few American and Japanese men and women who were present at Pearl Harbor and the ensuing world war who are still alive. Many of those who are still living are now in their late 80s and 90s and their memories are fading. Soon, those who lived through Pearl Harbor will be gone, along with the living memories of those profound historical events.
There is a sense of urgency that accompanies this 70th celebration. It is more important now than ever to make a serious effort to talk to our aged family members who lived through these times, whether military or civilian. We must preserve their stories for future generations to learn from.
The Pearl Harbor video clip shows the power of sharing these precious stories. They will enrich the lives of children, grandchildren and generations to come. By preserving the memories of our family members who lived through Pearl Harbor and the world war that followed we are able to learn powerful lessons that should not be lost with time.
If you are interested in learning more about family members who served in the military, order military records of your family and loved ones at the Veterans’ Service Records of the National Archives. It is best to find out what you can about the person before placing your order. Try to come prepared with:
- Their full name
- Dates and locations of birth and death
- What branch of the military they served in (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coasts Guard, etc.)
- Approximate dates of service, if you know that information
Begin your search for your ancestor’s military past and learn a side of history you may never have known before.