RTHS alum Durham stationed in Pearl Harbor for 80th anniversary

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ROCHELLE — The United States observed the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in ceremonies across America Tuesday. When the bombs hit that Dec. 7, ships were destroyed, more than 2,300 people died and it shook the nation, leading us to join World War II.

Sitting President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called Dec. 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy” — the very next day the United States declared war on Japan and formally entered World War II.

The war ended four years later when the United States declared victory against Japan in 1945, after dropping a pair of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands of civilians.

As you can imagine, the number of survivors and veterans of World War II dwindles every year. 63 WWII Veterans arrived at Oahu, Hawaii Dec. 3 to begin a week-long commemoration; a dozen of them more than 100 years old. For some, it was their first return to Pearl Harbor since the attack.

On duty Tuesday was former Rochelle Hub Anthony Durham (2012), now a member of the United States Marine Corps. He is stationed in Hawaii. Cpl. Durham and fellow marines escorted a group of WWII Veterans as they visited the elementary school on the base.

His military service has taken Durham all over the world including postings on Guam and Japan. Capable and confident having undergone rigorous training as an intelligence surveillance reconnaissance systems engineer, Durham had to admit he was a little bit overwhelmed being on duty at Pearl Harbor on the 80th anniversary of the attack with the men and women who survived and saved the world.

Thankfully, he was present in the moment but nonetheless recorded memories in photos and a text he sent home to his father Mark Durham, grandmother Donna Durham and aunt Danae White:

“Got to spend the morning with some WWII veterans at the elementary school on base and as a bonus I got to meet one of my favorite authors, Navy Seal Jack Carr, who was volunteering with them! Today was a win.”

At the end of his long day, Jack Carr tweeted: ‘Humbled beyond words to honor those who stood up 80 years ago today to put it all on the line in defense of freedom.’  

Jack Carr is the author of ‘The Terminal List,’ ‘True Believer,’ ‘Savage Son’ and ‘The Devil's Hand,’ his fourth in the bestselling series. 

"As we mark National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor the patriots who perished, commemorate the valor of all those who defended our Nation, and recommit ourselves to carrying forth the ensuing peace and reconciliation that brought a better future for our world," President Joe Biden said.