IMAGE: George Schmidt

A date which will live on in infamy was remembered across the country on Friday.

From wreath layings in New York City to remembering ceremonies in Minnesota, people across the United States honored those who lose their lives on Dec. 7, 1941.

More than 2,000 Americans died when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

The number of living survivors of that attack gets fewer and fewer every year.

“I didn’t know anything about the Navy,” said George Schmidt, Pearl Harbor survivor and Mid-Michigan resident. “I figured if I joined then my brothers wouldn’t have to.”

Schmidt began his six years in the Navy in 1940.

At 96 he still chuckles about his days aboard the USS San Francisco.

“We had a bosun. Oh, he was a mean sucker. I think the ship breathed a sigh of relief when he left,” Schmidt said.

The year after Schmidt enlisted, on Dec. 7, 1941, he was in Pearl Harbor when he heard the Navy’s bugle call for aircraft defense. The same call echoed during their frequent drills.

“So the sound of that on Sunday morning I said, ‘what the heck. We gotta practice now on Sundays too,’” Schmidt recalled. “I see these planes come and I said, ‘boy, it’s realistic today. They even got red balls painted on them.’ Didn’t take long to find out they aren’t ours,” Schmidt said.

Amid the ambush from the Japanese, Schmidt’s ship had no ammo. So he ran to another to return fire.

“As I’m running across, you could hear these bullets splattering on the cement,” Schmidt said.

Soon after, he saw the harbor explode into thick pockets of fire and smoke.

“Like when the Arizona got hit, big cloud of smoke going up,” he said.

“We got off a few shots,” Schmidt said. “Took quite a while because you had to get it all ready.”

Schmidt said he was scared at first, but the feeling went away.

“After a while I wasn’t afraid anymore,” he said.

Amid the date that will forever live in infamy, more than 2,000 American war heroes were killed.

Schmidt is estimated to be one of the roughly 2,000 people left who were there on that day.

He didn’t have much to say about what he hopes others do on the anniversary, but he hopes we never forget just how significant Dec. 7, 1941 is in American history.

“Just a day to remember. I’ll never forget it,” Schmidt said.

Copyright 2018 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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