Seventy years ago, there was no CNN, no Fox News. There weren’t 900 TV stations, and of the ones there were, they weren’t 24 hours, they shut down over night. Many Americans did not hear about the attack on Pearl Harbor till the next day, when newspapers came out. Unlike today, when the slightest hint of rain seems to turn our “news” stations into non-stop continuous “storm watch” coverage, details of “the latest” were not readily available.
There was no PowerPoint, no Flickr, no YouTube. So we don’t have the type of moving memorials you will find here to show us what the families of those who fought and died in WWII went through. But we do still have a few remaining veterans who do remember. Many of the things they remember are things they don’t want to remember. But there are many things they not only want to remember, but they want YOU to remember, particularly the sacrifice made by their friends and comrades. We still have several of those veterans here in Sierra Madre, including Art Contreras who served in the Pacific Theater of Operations and received a Purple Heart, Gordon Caldwell, who served on the USS Saratoga in the south Pacific, Ken Anhalt who served in the Mediterranean, George Metzger who also served in the south Pacific, Michael Domenico who served in both Europe and the Pacific, Ted Evans, who served in the Pacific. Of course, we’ve also lost several in the past few years, among them Howard Miller, who was one of the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima and Bill Newbery, who fought at the Battle of the Bulge.
While Gordon Caldwell’s story is not of Pearl Harbor, it is a direct result of Pearl Harbor. We all know that the day after the attack in Hawaii, in which four U.S. battleships sank or capsized, several hundred warplanes were destroyed and more than 2,400 servicemen, women and civilians died, the U.S. declared war on Japan and three days later, Dec. 11, 1941, Japan’s axis partners Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S., and we were now involved in the war “for the duration”. So I think it’s appropriate to remind people of his story today, on this, the 70th anniversary of what was the most devastating foreign attack in America’s history, until Sept. 11th, 2011. Gordon served on the USS Saratoga, which on Feb. 21, 1945 withstood what the Navy described as “one of the most concentrated attacks in which a carrier has survived, which might have sunk any other ship.”
Click here to read the text of Gordon’s speech on Veteran’s Day, 2008. And click on the video below to view Gordon’s talk at the Kiwanis Club in 2010.