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The Importance of Remembering the Attack on Pearl Harbor 71 Years Later

// News // DC // VA

STAUNTON, Va -- Gov. Bob McDonnell proclaimed Friday as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in Virginia. Japanese air forces attacked the U.S. naval base on Dec 7, 1941. Of the thousands of American soldiers killed that day, 44 of them were from Virginia.

As many survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor are becoming unable to tell the story, Jim Belcher made it his mission to keep history alive.

“I've listened to them and heard their stories over so many years,” said Belcher, “I just want to share what they've told me, so that these young people will have some connection to the sacrifice that these men made during WWII.”

Belcher is a man born from parents on both sides of the attack. His father was on the U.S.S. Indianapolis when it was attacked and his mother is Japanese. Her family fought for the Imperial Army.

“Our enemies yesterday can be our friends tomorrow. I saw the way this country changed over the years and it's very important that young people realize, that, in our current conflicts, it's not those civilians that we should be hating. It's their governments.”

Some said those lessons are already ingrained in our culture and we don't need to rehash them. Younger generations said they have their own memories that will stick with them forever.

“We're going to remember 9-11. We're going to remember Osama bin Laden. We're going to remember Barack Obama being the president. It's just things that go along with the generations that make our generation unique,” said Collin Spears, an 11th grader from Robert E. Lee High School.

Some veterans said the chances are unlikely those major points in history ever be forgotten.

“It's like a lot of other battles that we've been in. We talk about the Civil War. That's never been forgotten and that's been a long time ago. There are lots of remembrances and lots of ceremonies that will continue that remembrance,” said Mac McCauley, a Veterans of Foreign Wars commander for Post 2216.

Members of the Staunton VFW said they are making an active effort to make sure the key battles in history are never forgotten. The effort is called “Veterans in the Classroom.” The men and women go to schools and tell their stories, so future generations will always remember the great sacrifices in America's history.

© Copyright 2012 WHSV / Gray Television Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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