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Director's Message December 7, 2021

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On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Pearl Harbor.

The attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time. Of the eight U.S. Navy battleships present, all were damaged, with four sunk. All but USS Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. A total of 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed, and 1,178 others were wounded.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced the bombing as the country watched in horror with these words, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
The bombing of Pearl Harbor brought the United States into WWII and changed the course of history. As we reflect on the 80th anniversary on the attack on Pearl Harbor, we must also reflect on the events that followed, including the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the lives lost in Europe fighting Hitler’s Army. These events help us reflect on the terrible cost of war, and on the sacrifices on Americans throughout history to protect and defend freedom across the planet.

The Paris Peace Treaties that ended WWII were signed on February 10, 1947 following the end of World War II in 1945. The Paris Peace Conference lasted from July 29 until October 15, 1946.The peace treaty allowed the world to move forward and allowed the US to begin to heal relations between our country and Japan. Today, we enjoy a peaceful relationship with Japan, which has become a strategic Indo-Pacific ally. We must never forget the brave men and women who died throughout the war, and particularly those who died here on Oahu at Pearl Harbor. By studying our history, we may be able to discern and reconcile differences, thus becoming a means to prevent future wars and conflicts.

Pearl Harbor stands as a Memorial to the events that brought the United States into WWII. With over 1.8 million visitors per year Pearl Harbor is one of the most visited places in all the Hawaiian Islands, and for good reason. People go to pay their respects to fallen heroes, and to learn more about what happened that fateful morning of December 7, 1941.

As a 30-year Veteran of the US Navy, I am grateful for this time to pause and to honor my fellow sailors whose lives were lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor. As the director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System, I am proud to honor all my fellow Veterans each day by serving in the VA. Today is an important opportunity to reflect on our history, and to thank the men and woman who have worn the cloth of our nation, especially the men and women from the Second World War era.

Thank you to all who served. Let us always remember those who came before us. Let us learn from them and their sacrifice and honor them with our gratitude and respect.

One Team, One Ohana!
Adam M. Robinson, Jr., MD, MBA, CPE
Director, VA Pacific Islands Health Care System
36th Surgeon General, USN

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