On a warm Sunday morning 78 years ago today, The United States of America was attacked and thrown into the chaos that was World War II.
Today in Pearl Harbor Hawai, a solemn ceremony will be held for one of the sailors who was on the U.S.S. Arizona that fateful day. He will be laid to rest along with the 1,177 of his fellow shipmates who died during that surprise attack.
According to NPR…
When the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, sailor Lauren Bruner was the second-to-last person to get off the USS Arizona alive.
Bruner and five others were stranded on the doomed ship when a sailor on a repair ship spotted them and threw them a line. Even though Bruner was badly burned and had been shot twice, the 21-year-old managed to climb to safety.
He died in September at the age of 98, and on Saturday, his remains will return to the USS Arizona. He is expected to be the final USS Arizona survivor to be interred on the sunken warship, Pearl Harbor National Memorial spokesperson Jay Blount tells NPR.
There are only three survivors left from the Arizona Don Stratton, Lou Conter, and Ken Potts and those gentlemen have all expressed wishes to be buried elsewhere.
Lauren Bruner’s passing is once again a reminder that the “Greatest Generation” is about to physically pass on from our view and with that the first-hand knowledge of what happened during WW II. We soon will no longer have any living survivors who fought in that war. Even though we have video and audio of their recollections it will not be the same as first-hand knowledge.
As Bruner himself explained in 2014…
“Well, I studied it for a long time,” the veteran said, according to Stars and Stripes. “All my family and friends have been buried in various places, cemeteries. But it seems like after a while, nobody pays attention to them anymore after about five years. I hope that a lot of people will still be coming to the Arizona. I would be glad to see them.”
We need to do a better job paying attention to the stories and the lessons that these brave men and women who lived and fought during that time have left behind for us. We soon won’t have them to tell us these memories directly and that truly is sad for those of us whom they leave behind.
May God have welcomed you home Lauren Bruner, as I pray that he did all of your fellow Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines from that conflict over seven decades ago that crushed evil. You have all truly earned your rest.
I promise I will never forget the sacrifices you and others made for all of us here today.
(Note: The original article had the anniversary date at 77 years but has been corrected to 78)