Remembering Pearl Harbor, 66 years later

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Sixty-six years ago today, Japan launched a surprise attack against the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. About 2,400 lives were lost. Until Sept. 11, 2001 - when almost 3,000 people died in cowardly terrorist attacks - Pearl Harbor was the most devastating enemy attack on U.S. soil.

Both attacks were defining moments in U.S. history and offered similar challenges to our Nation. In his National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day 2006 proclamation, President George W. Bush said, "In the 21st century, freedom is again under attack and young Americans have stepped forward to serve in a global war on terror that will secure our liberty and determine the destiny of millions around the world."

President Bush called U.S. troops fighting today's war on terror "a new generation of Americans every bit as brave and selfless as those who have come before them." Our President was talking about you!

Whether here at home processing and launching launch vehicles and satellites, or deployed to hotspots across the globe, you're fighting in the Global War on Terror - standing in the way of those who despise our way of life and are committed to attacking freedom and denying others the right to pursue liberty and live in peace. Thanks to your selfless service we are making headway in America's efforts to build a more safe and secure world for our children and grandchildren, and others all over the world.

But we wouldn't have much of what we have today if not for the service and sacrifice of our military veterans, including those who died and survived at Pearl Harbor that fateful day in 1941. They paved the way and preserved all of the things we hold dear.

Though we can never do enough to let them know how much we respect and appreciate them, but I encourage you to attend AFTAC's annual Pearl Harbor Memorial Service today at 2 p.m. Members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association are expected to attend. It will be a great opportunity to rub shoulders with genuine American heroes. Use this as an opportunity to learn from living legends and to say, "Thanks!" Go Sharks!