COLORADO SPRINGS – For the 77th time, the United States of America, paused to reflect and remember that day “That Will Live In Infamy”, the attack on Pearl Harbor, that thrust the United States in to World War II. Sadly, for the first time, no survivors from the U.S.S. Arizona, one of the most recognizable targets of destruction on that fateful day at Pearl Harbor, attended the annual ceremony in Hawaii as none of the men were able to make the trip due to age and poor health. There are only a handful of survivors from the U.S.S. Arizona still alive, including Donald Stratton who lives in Colorado Springs.
Stratton along with other dignitaries, attended a special remembrance ceremony and service at the Pioneer’s Museum downtown, to mark the occasion, reflect and honor those who were injured or killed that fateful day. Stratton was a young sailor, a gunner’s mate, aboard the Arizona when that early morning Sunday attack began, on December 7th, 1941.
He watched this morning as wreaths were laid and appreciation given for those who lost their lives that day. He told us that the painful memories never go away, and the older he gets, the harder it is to deal with it. Stratton said “That was so devastating you think about it all the time, but I’m getting so I don’t talk about it at all, it just brings back too many memories.”
Today’s event was sponsored by the Navy League. And a reminder that just this past February, we lost Jim Downing, who at age 104, was believed to be the second oldest survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack. He was assigned to the U.S.S. West Virginia.
Back to Donald Stratton, and a side note that earlier this year, the city of Colorado Springs honored Stratton for his courage during the Pearl Harbor attack, and his four year stint after that in the war that followed. A bridge that crosses Interstate 25 at Fillmore Street now bears his name. He felt the dedication was more than about himself, saying at the time, he hopes that everybody who passes, gets a good glimpse and it reminds them of the sacrifice that the people at Pearl Harbor gave, to make it possible.