President Barack Obama marked the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Wednesday by honoring those who gave their lives that day.
“Over 2,400 American patriots lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor — military and civilian, men, women and children,” Obama said in a statement.
“Their sacrifice galvanized millions of GIs and Rosie the Riveters who answered the call to defend liberty at its moment of maximum peril. In the hours after the attack, President Roosevelt promised that ‘the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.’ Thanks to the heroism of a generation, we did.”
The President noted that he would be making a historic visit to the USS Arizona Memorial later this month with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“As a testament that even the most bitter of adversaries can become the closest of allies, I look forward to visiting the USS Arizona Memorial later this month along with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,” he said. “This historic visit will stand as a tribute to the power of reconciliation and to the truth that the United States and Japan — bound by an alliance unimaginable 75 years ago—will continue to work hand-in-hand for a more peaceful and secure world.”
Abe is the first Japanese leader to visit the site since the end of World War II.
“President Obama’s message for the world without nuclear upon his visit to Hiroshima was engraved in the heart of the Japanese people,” Abe said earlier this month. “I will visit Pearl Harbor with President Obama. This will be a visit to soothe the souls of the victims. We should never repeat the ravages of the war.”
In May, Obama was the first sitting US President to visit Hiroshima, where in 1945 the US military dropped a nuclear bomb killing more than 100,000 Japanese men, women and children.
Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor is thought to be a way of reciprocating the commitment shown by Obama to Japan-US relations.
President-elect Donald Trump called those who sacrificed their lives at Pearl Harbor “brave Americans.”
“Today we are the bearers of the torch of freedom these brave Americans passed on to us. In honor of their faithfulness, and for the sake of generations to come, we will never allow that flame to be extinguished,” he said.
The President-elect noted that the US and Japan are no longer at odds, and said America’s quest for peace must continue.
“America’s enemies have changed over the past 75 years. But the fact remains, as President Reagan said when first proclaiming National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, ‘there can be no substitute for victory’ in the pursuit of peace,” he said.