By Debbie Adams
Several cadets from the Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) based at William Byrd High School participated in a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Virginia Veterans Care Center on Dec. 7, honoring the veterans who reside there.
The program included the Presentation of the Colors by the NJROTC Color Guard, the playing of the national anthem, readings on the history of Pearl Harbor Day and President Franklin Roosevelt’s joint address to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, a Flag Folding Ceremony, and the playing of “Taps.’ After the program, the cadets were able to visit with the veterans at the center.
Students participating included Cadets Katelin Patrick (Unit Commander), Jamie Rowlett, Beth McFalls, William Sloane, Zackary Charles, Jordan Davila, Mason Perdue, Trevor Robinson, Terry Nolan, Noah Nicely, Mason Truslow, and Andrew Murphy. The Cadets were accompanied by Senior Chief David Perrin, USN (retired), their Naval Science instructor at William Byrd.
“National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is celebrated annually on Dec. 7,” Cadet Patrick said. “The day commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii during World War II. 2,403 American servicemen lost their lives and over 1,200 servicemen were injured during this attack.”
Patrick thanked “all those among us who, despite the risk and sacrifice, raised their hand to serve and defend this beautiful country— our veterans, active-duty service members, coast guardsmen, and reservists. Your service has helped keep our country and its citizens safe and free. To America’s World War II patriots here, we will never forget your courage under considerable fire and seemingly insurmountable odds. Because of you, our future remains bright. We owe you an immeasurable debt and we can’t thank you enough for answering the call of duty when Lady Liberty needed it the most. Let’s also take a moment to acknowledge those families of service members and veterans who help shoulder the weight of war and the burdens of sacrifice. To the mothers, fathers, spouses and children of our military men and women— thank you. Your love, support and resilience are the backbone of this nation, and that must never be forgotten.”
Cadet Murphy next described the historical events of Pearl Harbor. “On Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. naval base on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, was subject to an attack that was one of the greatest military surprises in the history of warfare. In less than two hours, the U.S. Pacific Fleet was devastated, and more than 3,500 Americans were killed or wounded. The attack on Pearl Harbor catapulted the United States into World War II. The American people were outraged. Though diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan were deteriorating, they had not yet broken off at the time of the attack. Instantly, the incident united the American people in a massive mobilization for war and strengthened American resolve to guard against any future lapse of military alertness.
“Early in the afternoon of Dec. 7, President Roosevelt and his chief foreign policy aide, Harry Hopkins, were interrupted by a telephone call from Secretary of War Henry Stimson and told that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. At about 5 p.m., following meetings with his military advisers, the President calmly and decisively dictated to his secretary, Grace Tully, a request to Congress for a declaration of war.
“On Dec. 8, at 12:30 p.m., Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress and, via radio, the nation. The Senate responded with a unanimous vote in support of war; only Montana pacifist Jeanette Rankin dissented in the House. At 4 p.m. that same afternoon, President Roosevelt signed the declaration of war.”
Cadet Charles then read Roosevelt’s Joint Address to Congress.
“Yesterday, Dec. 7, 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 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.
“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, Dec. 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”
Cadet Davila next narrated the Flag Folding Ceremony with Cadets Rowlett (flag folder) and Ragnone (flag holder). Davila dedicated each fold to soldiers who founded and fought for this nation, reading a list of wars the armed forces engaged in throughout the history of the United States. The flag folding ceremony also honors first responders and the families of those who serve.
After the program, the cadets were able to visit with veterans Robert Bowles, who served in the Marine Corps in Korea from August 1950-September 1951, and Thelmon Witcher, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II from May 1945-July 1947 and hear their experiences.
The visit to the VVCC was facilitated by Maeghan Hubbard, their Director of Activities, who commented that “it was a wonderful program, and our guys really enjoyed it!”