Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

December 7, 2011 by staff 

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, When Ronald Moton awoke to the sound of dive-bombing airplanes and explosions early on a Sunday in December 1941, he jumped out of bed, hoping to catch a U.S. Navy aerial exercise.

Stopping only to pull on slacks and sandals, he ran outside in time to spot a low-flying plane banking toward Pearl Harbor and quickly realized, this was no practice run.

“I saw the red ball. I saw the pilot, and he saw me,” said the 97-year-old Watsonville resident, recalling the Japanese attack, 70 years ago Wednesday. “I knew we were at war.”

What Moton and most Americans probably didn’t realize was how much their lives were about to change. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described Dec. 7, 1941, as “a date which will live in infamy” in a speech preceding a Congressional declaration of war the next day.

During the attack, which began a little before 8 a.m. and ended about two hours later, 2,403 Americans were killed. Another 1,178 military personnel and civilians were wounded. The United States lost 21 ships and 188 airplanes. More than 400,000 American soldiers, sailors and Marines would lose their lives before peace returned in 1945.

But Pearl Harbor also marked a turning point for a country coming out of a deep depression and on its way to becoming a global economic and political superpower. For many, the war brought opportunity.

Moton, for one, saw a vast improvement in his life.

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