Remembering Dec. 7th a Date Which Will Live in Infamy

A WWII, Korea and Vietnam veteran at the WWII Memorial. Photo credit: Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Twitter

A WWII, Korea and Vietnam veteran at the WWII Memorial. Photo credit: Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Twitter

Today, December 7th,  is a date burned into the memories of all World War II veterans, their families and descendants. Yet, the number of people who don’t know the date’s significance is growing.

So take a moment to step back into time – here’s a copy of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech so often quoted after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

Anotated Typewritten Copy"Day of Infamy" Speech. Credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.

Anotated Typewritten Copy
“Day of Infamy” Speech. Credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Three Veterans Bring Wreaths Across America to Florida

Wreaths Across America started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery. Six years ago this photo went viral and prompted expansion of the project to all national cemeteries.

Wreaths Across America started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery. Six years ago this photo went viral and prompted expansion of the project to all national cemeteries.

An iconic Christmas photo went viral six years ago – it shows donated, holiday wreaths laid on the snow-covered graves in Arlington National Cemetery.

Now known as Wreaths Across America, the project has grown to include all national cemeteries.

Three friends took on the challenge to provide holiday wreaths for the veterans buried at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

They started with six wreaths in December 2006.

Veterans Randy Lewer (R), Jack Sellers (C), and Steve Leinwand (L) took on the mission to provide wreaths for the veterans buried at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

Veterans Randy Lewer (R), Jack Sellers (C), and Steve Leinwand (L) took on the mission to provide wreaths for the veterans buried at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

“We had about 40 people in attendance,” said Randy Lewer, who retired from the military after 23 years of service. “From there, we kept growing and this year we’re about 6,500 wreaths and we’re probably, I think for the past couple of years, about 7,000 people in attendance.”

Lewer credits his buddy Steve Leinwand, a veteran of Desert Storm, with getting the project started.

“Being in the military, we’re all brothers in arms,” Leinwand said. “And we have to give back, if we don’t, who will? With the economy, the only ones out here are veterans giving back to veterans.”

But for Leinwand it’s more than giving back to fellow veterans, he’s caring for his buddies buried at Bushnell.

The three veterans all have friends buried there. They visit their graves, tell stories, laugh and leave an occasional gift.

“A bag of M&Ms here, a shot of whiskey there, you know for our fallen brothers,” Leinwand said.

Their third buddy is veteran Jack Sellers.

There are more than 100,000 gravesites at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

There are more than 100,000 gravesites at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

“As long as you remember somebody up here, they’ll live forever,” Sellers said. “It’s when we forget them or never come to talk to them or never speak about them is when they’re gone.”

Sellers said that’s the point of Wreaths Across America – to remember the veterans. Each wreath costs $15, but Sellers, who is in charge of corporate sponsorships, said he’s never asked a corporate sponsor for a dime.

“I’m not one to ask for money. I just want your time which to me is more valuable than a dollar,” Sellers said. “If you come up here and give me your time, give me your minute. Then you’ll be giving everybody out here a dollar or two for a wreath especially the children.”

An early holiday wreath at one of three columbariums at Florida National Cemetery.

An early holiday wreath at one of three columbariums at Florida National Cemetery.

That’s the Christmas wish of Sellers, Leinwand and Lewer – that people will come to the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell on December 15 to help lay the wreaths this year.

Participants are asked to be on site by 9:45 a.m. The wreaths are to be delivered at 10 a.m. and a ceremony honoring the fallen is planned at 11 a.m.

Remember – Honor – Teach – is the motto of Wreaths Across America. The wreath ceremony rivals Memorial Day attracting close to 7,000 according to Kurt Rotar, director of the Bushnell VA cemetery.

“You get people who come out here whether they have someone buried here or not,” Rotar said. “They’re pulled into the ceremony they’re pulled into the tradition and honor and dignity.”

It’s an honor that Lewer, Leinwand and Sellers want for every gravesite at Bushnell. There’s more to be done. Despite raising money for 6500 wreaths there are more than 100,000 gravesites at the Florida National Cemetery.

You can find out more about Wreaths Across American – Bushnell HERE.

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