On Wednesday Iowans gathered at the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Des Moines to remember a day that happened 75 years ago.
They share stories of friends and family who were there on the “date which will live in infamy”.
“I had a lot of friends who served. Stories and stories that they’ve told me, I’ve helped pass on to other people. I encourage people anywhere, to get up with some of these old timers and talk to `em. They’ll tell you their stories if you ask” said veteran Joe Hays.
Joe was only two years-old when the Japanese Empire attacked Pearl Harbor; but he continues to tell the story of his late friend Bob Reider, who was making rounds the morning of December 7th.
“‘All of a sudden these planes are going over’ and he said ‘I heard all of this going on, I said what in the heck is going on?’ and he says ‘clear down the harbor it was smoke and bombing’” said Joe.
“He said ‘I pulled my .45 out and I looked up and started blazing away, I could see their faces!’” Joe said re-telling Bob’s story.
“I said ‘do you realize, Bob, you may have fired the first shot of retaliation in World War II?’ and he said ‘Joe, don’t ever tell that story to anybody’” Joe laughed as he looked skyward.
Others share stories of their family who came close to death during the attack.
“He’d been working the evening shift and just gotten off duty, and he headed back to the barracks to get some sleep” Kathryn Arndt said.
Kathryn’s father, Lehman Anderson, was a weather forecaster on base and found himself caught in a hail of gunfire.
“He and a friend ran for cover, and unfortunately his friend didn’t make it” said Kathryn. “They were just amazed that the Japanese attacked and so many people died that day” she said.
People like Kathryn and Joe share their loved one’s stories for a common reason.
“I think it’s something that we all need to remember and to keep that history alive” said Kathryn.
“Our heritage, our lineage” said Joe.
Passing on the values of what has been called the greatest generation.
“Well what do you stand for? I stand for liberty, freedom, they believe in something, [so] stand up for it. Do it” said Joe.
According to pearlharbor.org 26 Iowans died during the attack, all aboard the USS Arizona.