I urge all Americans to pause and remember the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which took place on December 7, 1941.
More than 2,400 soldiers, sailors and Marines were killed during the Japanese sneak attack that led to the United States entrance into World War II.
On that day, more than 400 sailors and Marines from the USS Oklahoma were killed when their battleship capsized. Only 35 of those men were ever positively identified.
Casualties on the USS Oklahoma were second only to those of the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 men.
Following the war, the unidentified remains of 388 killed aboard the USS Oklahoma were buried in 61 caskets – many containing multiple remains – at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
The marker on each grave read simply: UNKNOWNS – USS Oklahoma – Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941.
Earlier this year, the Defense Department agency responsible for discovering and identifying the remains of fallen American military members -- anywhere in the world -- began the painstaking work to dis-inter the caskets from the cemetery.
In mid-November the last of those caskets were removed, and the remains were transferred to laboratories where; using modern scientific methods, the effort to identify each service member is underway.
Recently, at least seven of these “Unknowns” have been identified. Officials say it may take years to identify most or all of the remains.
This year, 74 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the effort to identify those who died that day and return them to their families, says so much about who we are as Americans, and the respect we have for those who served and continue to serve our great nation.
I applaud that effort and urge you all to “Remember Pearl Harbor.”