Published Saturday, December 08, 2012
By ALEX MCRAE
Sept. 11, 2001, is the most memorable date in American history for many today.
But for the generation that survived the Great Depression and won World War II, no date will even compare with Dec. 7, 1941, the day America was plunged into war by a sneak attack by Japanese naval and air forces on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The 71st anniversary of that momentous event was commemorated Friday at the Newnan Veterans Administration Clinic off Georgia Highway 34 East on Oak Hill Court.
World War II veteran Gene Cook was the guest speaker for the remembrance, which was followed by a reception for attendees.
Cook was a member of the 506th Parachute Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles.” He saw action during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was still fighting in Europe when Germany surrendered in May 1945.
Cook has returned many times to Normandy, both as a visitor and honored guest of the country he helped liberate. In 1994, he slipped on his parachute harness and dropped on Normandy one more time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
“I’m glad I could be here, Cook said. “They asked me to come and I’ve never been out here before so I wanted to come see the clinic.
Cathy Adams, a nurse at the Newnan clinic who organizes programs like Friday’s event, said, “We are always trying to do whatever we can for your veterans. They gave so much and we want to do something in return. We also want to keep getting the word out that we’re here and ready to help our veterans.”
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked by Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships docked at Pearl Harbor were damaged, and four were sunk. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and an anti-aircraft training ship.
During the attack, 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded.
The following day, Dec. 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in asking Congress to declare war against Japan, referred to Dec. 7, 1941, as “a date which will live in infamy.”
Three years and nine months later, World War II ended with the surrender of Japan. But the human toll was staggering, with more than 400,000 Americans giving their lives in defense of freedom.
Friday’s program was one of several that have been held to honor veterans at the Newnan VA Clinic.
The 10,000-square-foot facility at 39-A Oak Hill Court near Highway 34 East and Sullivan Road opened its doors in the fall of 2009. The facility opened with one full-time doctor and several nurses and originally provided primary care health services, nutrition counseling and social services.
In addition to full-time physicians, psychiatrist and psychologist are on hand to help vets deal with mental health issues, including depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).