“It’s something I will never forget. Never,” recalled 106-year-old Ray Chavez, America’s oldest survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor in an interview this morning with FRC’s radio producer Russ Jones. The World War II veteran was honored yesterday by President Trump — a visit Chavez called “the highlight of my life.” But he also shared another motivator for traveling more than 2,600 miles away from his home in Poway, California: to ensure the nation never forgets “what we went through.”
Last year, the San Diego Tribune reported Chavez’s role in history on the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack:
Chavez had just gone to bed after a night aboard the Condor. A San Diego fishing boat that had been converted into a minesweeper and stationed in Hawaii, the Condor was cruising near Pearl Harbor when a lookout spotted a submarine. “We’ve got company!” the lookout yelled.
At the helm, Chavez couldn’t see the intruder. When a friend relieved him, he walked to the Condor’s port side and scanned the dark sea.
“All I saw was a periscope,” he said.
About 3:50 a.m. on December 7, the Condor reported the sighting. The destroyer Ward searched the area and around 6:37 a.m., sighted and attacked the sub.
Preceding the Zeros assault on Pearl Harbor by more than an hour, this was the first American action in World War II.
Within hours, 2,341 of his fellow brave Americans in uniform would lay down their lives for the cause of freedom. On this Memorial Day, we can and should remember their sacrifice and the sacrifice of so many others who have given the last full measure of devotion to this country of ours. This is not just another three-day weekend. It’s a time for remembrance. It’s a time for thanksgiving, that our country still has so many who are willing to risk all in this world for the sake of their families, and fellow Americans.
We also honor all those who stand ready to defend America. As President Trump said yesterday in announcing the cancellation of the summit with North Korea, “I’ve spoken to General Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world that has been greatly enhanced recently, as you all know, is ready if necessary.” And more ready they are – especially now that they finally have a commander-in-chief who is putting the focus on the military’s mission: preparing to fight and win wars.
North Korea’s Kim Jun Un is learning that this is a president who won’t be pushed around like President Obama. As FRC’s General Boykin noted, “Kim got overconfident and pushed the president too far. He is now most likely thinking through where he went wrong and what he has to do to resurrect the summit.”
A lot is at stake especially for the estimated 300,000 Christians in North Korea – with as many as 50,000 of them in hard labor camps. Open Doors USA ranks North Korea as #1 in the world as the most dangerous country to be a Christian. To the relief of North Korea’s Christians and so many persecuted people of different faiths around the globe, America is regaining its voice on international religious liberty. While the move toward North Korea’s denuclearization is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we must continue to pray and press North Korea to move away from totalitarianism where religious minorities have suffered so greatly.
As we pray that the people of North Korea will one day live in freedom, let us thank God for the freedoms we enjoy. And let us also remember that freedom is not free, which is what Memorial Day is designed to do. So this weekend take time to pray; pray a prayer of thanksgiving for those who have bought and fought for our freedom. And just as importantly, pray for those families who are reminded of the cost of freedom each time they see the empty seat at the table or the absence at the family gathering. In remembering their deeds, paying homage to their memory, and praying for those left behind, we preserve this last best hope of men on earth.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.