A date which will live in infamy.
Those words were spoken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
72 years later, Americans gather to remember the men and women who lost their lives in the attack.
On December 7th, 1941, Leland Lester was just 19 years old.
“I grew up in a hurry that day,” Lester said.
That day, Lester had just finished feeding his men working as a mess cook for the U.S. Navy on the USS Pennsylvania.
As Japanese planes began flying overhead and bombs went off behind him, he prepared to fight for his country.
“I did something I’d never done before. I got on the left side of the gun, turned the crank, and turned it into firing position,” Lester said.
Lester survived the attacks on Pearl Harbor but more than 2,400 Americans did not.
That’s why a crowd of about 50 people gathered at the Pearl Harbor memorial just east of the state capitol on Saturday.
Linda Quigley, President of the Iowa chapter of the Sons and Daughters of the Pearl Harbor Survivors organizes the event each year.
“It’s heartwarming for us. It’s a wonderful day,” Quigley said.
The national anthem was sung, people prayed and roses were left behind in honor of those who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
Quigley’s father was on her mind.
“My father served on the USS Pennsylvania and he also helped in the burying of some of the people who passed that day,” said Quigley.
Leland Lester remembered the men and women he served with.
“Those boys who were serving knew they had to do something to protect the United States. They were going to give their lives if they had to,” said Lester.
More than 1,200 Americans were wounded along with the 2,400 people who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor.
The United States declared war on Japan the day after the attacks.