Making Their Sacrifices Matter

Frank Ducar American Legion, Marine SSgt Steffon Hicklin, Marine Col Jessica Montano, Anthony Guerrero American Legion (Photo Karl Cooke CR)

The Clovis Veterans Memorial District (CVMD) held its annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Ceremony, Dec 7th. 

The day that former president Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “will live in infamy.”

On this day in 1941, the empire of Japan surprised the United States by attacking Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by airstrike. 2,403 lives were lost and another 1,178 were injured. 20 American ships and over 300 aircrafts were damaged from the bombings. This led the United States to join the war on December 8.

The ceremony started with local veterans presenting the colors. Followed by the pledge of allegiance, led by August Flach, and the national anthem.

In remembrance of those who lost their lives, a bell was rung two times after a reading of the number of lives lost in each branch of the military. After the bell was rung, a silent prayer was held while the song “Taps” was played in their honor.

Once the moment of silence ended, special guest speaker Paul Loeffler told the stories of several survivors and heroes of the attack. Each story expressed the message of unity during a moment of crisis, even if there was division within.

One of the stories told was about Dorie Miller, a U.S. Navy cook on the USS West Virginia who was killed in action in 1943. During the attacks, Miller ran up to a gun that he had no training with and wasn’t his job, and started to fire at Japanese planes. 

Although Miller wasn’t entitled to the same roles as other soldiers during this time, he wasn’t worried about what his role was and wanted to help fight back in any way he could. For his actions, Miller was awarded the Navy Cross, the first African-American to receive this award.

The U.S.Navy is also planning to lay down an aircraft carrier in his name called the USS Doris Miller in January 2026. 

Although the survivors couldn’t attend the ceremony, Loeffler emphasized the message from their stories and what they want others to know about the motto, “Keep America Alert.” 

“The biggest thing that they wanted to hammer home with that motto ‘Keep America Alert’, is that you cannot allow this to happen in our country,” Loeffler said. “What happened in our country after that? What is the lesson of Pearl Harbor? It’s the unity that sprang up in our country. This country responded and it came together. And soon, every man, woman and child was doing something for the war effort.”

To end his speech, Loeffler offered a message on how we can make the sacrifices of those who lost their lives worth it. 

“What do we owe to them,” Loeffler said. “What can we do to make sure that price they paid is worth it? I’m not going to answer that question for you, I’m going to let you think about it and come up with that answer.”

CVMD President Lorezno Rios ended the ceremony by reminding us of how we can honor those lives lost and say thank you to them through action.   

“You say thank you by making their sacrifice matter,” Rios said. “Do your part to make America great.”

Rios ended his remarks by repeating this message through the true cost of freedom.

“The freedoms that we enjoy come because sacrifice, that wasn’t very nice, was endured by others,” Rios said. “Let’s make that sacrifice matter. Let’s do our part every single day by being part of the solution and not part of the problem. Do your little part around your house. Around your neighborhood. Make it the best place to be.”

In doing those things, Rios stated, “The values we model will be what really shows that America is worth fighting for today just as we did yester-year.”

Karl Cooke
I am 27 years old, born and raised in Fresno, California. I am the youngest of 4 kids and am a full time student at Fresno State University. I am happily engaged to be married to my fiance Daniella. My favorite sports teams are the L.A Rams, Dodgers and Lakers. I have two dogs and one cat. I have my own podcast called “The Two Minute Warning” Podcast that you can listen to on any platform that you listen to your podcasts.