On Wednesday, the Washington Redskins participated in the 75th Anniversary Commemoration for Pearl Harbor at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
On Dec. 7, 1941, 2,403 American soldiers and civilians lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Twenty-nine World War II veterans - including seven Pearl Harbor survivors – were in attendance at the ceremony, and also served as wreath presenters.
Among the guest wreath presenters were Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the Honorable Senator John McCain from Arizona, Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx and a member of the Redskins’ ownership group, and Redskins President Bruce Allen – all of whom were paired up with one of the survivors during the wreath laying ceremony.
Allen laid the wreath for the Friends of the National World War II Memorial, along with the organization’s chairman, Josiah Bunting III. The World War II representative that joined them was Harold Mainer, who was on the USS Helena at the time of the attack.
For Allen, it was an absolute honor to meet, spend time and be a part of the ceremony with such a brave man as Mainer.
“I wanted to say thank you 35,000 times to him on behalf of everyone in America and everyone in the free world,” Allen said. “Their bravery and their courage is something we all admire. It’s quite moving really to be around these heroes and to hear their stories that go back to Pearl Harbor. We owe them a debt of gratitude that we’ll never be able to repay.”
McCain had vivid memories of what happened on that fateful day 75 years ago. McCain was five years old at the time, and he remembered his father receiving news of the attack from an officer from the United States Navy in the front yard of their home. His father left immediately after speaking with the officer, joined the Navy and fought in World War II.
McCain said he didn’t see his father much after that for the next four years, but the sacrifices his father and the rest of the American soldiers made shaped how the United States would be looked at to this very day.
“That we were defeated by our enemy for a moment, does not diminish the nobility the sacrifices made by the Americans that day for the sake of duty, honor and country,” McCain said. “Neither does it obscure the magnitude of their real achievement. They fought the first battle and set the first example in a long campaign of America’s enlightened leadership of the free world.
"For decades, they say, hot oil from the hold of the Arizona bubbles to the surface,” McCain added. “It was not only a living testament to the destruction brought on Dec. 7, 1941, it was a warning that freedom is never cheap, and those who lead this great and bravely defended nation must do our duty always to be watchful, and to provide for the common defense with the resources at our disposal, so that the best men and women in America will not be forced to provide for it with their lives.”