A Day of Remembrance: December 7th


Courtesy of Politico

The 78th Annual commemoration ceremony of the December 7th attack will feature the 3 last remaining survivors of the USS Arizona.

On this day 78 years ago, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Army. On that day, 2,390 military personnel, and civllianʻs lives were lost. Ever since that fateful day, every anniversary of the attack has been marked with a ceremony remembering the lives of those lost in the attack.

The Pearl Harbor attack brought the United States officially into the Second World War. A participation that would last 4 years with casualties in the millions.


In 1962, the USS Arizona Memorial was built beside the remains of the Arizona to commemorate the many lives lost from the explosion of the ship. Every year on the anniversary, the sailors who served on the USS Arizona would gather on the memorial in solemn remembrance of the lives lost on the Arizona. As the years bore on, fewer and fewer veterans from the Arizona have survived the test of time. The theme for this yearʻs commemoration ceremony is “Glimmers of Victory” with 3 of the veterans in attendance. The three remaining veterans are Don Stratton, Lou Conter and Ken Potts.

Stratton was only 19 at the time of the attack. His rank was a Navy Seaman First class onboard the USS Arizona. Stratton was badly burned from the explosion of the boiler and wouldnʻt have been able to escape if it wasnʻt for a rope that was thrown down to rescue him. He would spend a year recovering from his injuries before he re-enlisted in the navy to serve his nation.

Conter was the quartermaster on watch when the first plane attacked Pearl Harbor. He was 20 years old at the time and enlisted in the Navy at 18. Conter was not injured in the bombing, but assisted the crew members who were burned in evacuating the ship and coordinating the escape route. He would later on go to flight school and join the Navy Squadron “Black Cats”.

Potts was the coxswain onboard the USS Arizona on that fateful morning. Potts would be 20 years old during the attacks. Potts position had him placed in the upper parts of the ship which allowed him to escape on escape crafts after the USS Arizona began to sink. Potts, along with other sailors in the craft, would pull people from the raging inferno onto his escape craft as they made for land. Potts would then be assigned to recovering bodies of dead sailors from the water. After December 7th, Potts would be assigned to the port director’s office where he delivered classified information to ship captains until 1945.

This yearʻs commemoration also featured the burial of the last veteran to be placed inside the USS Arizona. The late survivor and veteran, Lauren Bruner, was one of the last sailors to have left the USS Arizona before it sank. In an interview on why Bruner wanted to be buried inside the USS Arizona with the Associated Press in 2016, Bruner said “I thought, well, all my buddies are right here. And there are a lot of people who come to see the ship,”. Bruner will be buried on the day of the commemoration followed by a 21 gun salute and presentation of the American flag for the family.

It is only a matter of time before there will be no surviving veterans of the USS Arizona. The surviving veterans wanted the future generations to “remember the events of Pearl Harbor and to never forget the lives lost that fateful day”.