Veterans remember Pearl Harbor

December 7th marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which claimed more than 2,400 lives and 1,100 were injured when the Japanese attacked American battleships in Hawaii.

At Veterans Cafe on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, those who served in the military come for a bite to eat and to connect with others who have led a similar life. Old pictures, uniforms, and newspaper clippings are part of the decor.

James Vaught was 15 during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. At the time of the attack, the Conway native was at a local store when the news broke. He says one thing about the attack sticks out in his mind, "The fact that it was a surprise. The fact that the Japanese had enough damn arrogance to attack this country."

Vaught also remembers hearing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "day that will live in infamy" speech in his homeroom class at school. Vaught later joined the Army and served in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam.

"No one knew where Pearl Harbor was at that time. Of course now everyone knows where it is, at that time Hawaii was not a state so it was protectorate of the United States," explains Sinclair O. Swan. Swan was just a toddler at the time of the bombing and went on to serve in Vietnam.

The attack on Pearl Harbor led to the U.S. involvement in World War II. Swan and other veterans stress the importance of recognizing the sacrifices made that day and in subsequent wars.

"There's an old saying a country that neglects its veterans and forgets what they did for them will soon not exist," adds Swan.

The veterans say the attack on Pearl Harbor serves as a reminder for the U.S. to be vigilant against another surprise attack.