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Gardner Recognizes Pearl Harbor Anniversary and Survivors on Senate Floor

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) spoke on the floor of the United States Senate today recognizing the upcoming 78th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the three remaining survivors of the USS Arizona.

Pearl Harbor Floor Speech SS

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to view Senator Gardner’s remarks. 

“On Saturday, December 7th, millions of Americans across the country will pay tribute to the attack at Pearl Harbor to commemorate what happened that morning that brought the United States fully into the Second World War,” said Senator Gardner. “On Saturday as we join our families, I hope that we’ll take a little bit of time to reflect once again on a dark chapter in American history that lead to a great American century. To be thankful to the men and women who serve our country, to the men and women who fight for our nation each and every day. To the people like Ken Potts, and Lou Conter, and Donald Stratton, who continue to remind us each and every moment why this nation is worth fighting for.”

Remarks as delivered:

Thank you, Mr. President. 

On September 10th just a few months ago, Lauren Bruner, a veteran of Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941, passed away. Mr. Bruner wasn’t just any veteran, he was a veteran who served on the USS Arizona during the attack that morning.

On Saturday, December 7th, millions of Americans across the country will pay tribute to the attack at Pearl Harbor to commemorate what happened that morning that brought the United States fully into the Second World War. Aboard the USS Arizona were 1,512 officers, sailors, marines. The attack that day, December 7th, killed 1,177 of them. 335 brave people survived that morning.

But Lauren Bruner, who passed away September 10th, was one of four who survive today that were on that ship that December morning in 1941. Lauren Bruner passed away at the age of 98, and on this Saturday, his ashes will be interred at the USS Arizona to join his shipmates: those who were lost that morning and others who have joined their fellow sailors, marines, and officers since.

Three men remain, veterans of that war, from the USS Arizona. Lou Conter, 98 years old, and Ken Potts, 98 years old, and Donald Stratton, Colorado Springs, Colorado, a 97-year-old. Ken Potts and Don Stratton will join together for most likely the last time this Saturday, as they will watch a live video feed of the ceremony at Pearl Harbor at the USS Arizona memorial to view the internment of their shipmate Lauren Bruner at the USS Arizona.

The Senate was able to play a small role in recognizing what brought Don Stratton, Lauren Bruner, and the others together. You see on that morning when their ship was bombed, Lauren Bruner had been shot in the leg, Donald Stratton was on fire, the two of them and four of their other shipmates were on a control tower as the ship was on fire, when a rope appeared – a line from a USS Vestal, a ship next to the USS Arizona, line was thrown from a sailor named Joe George. They tied to the tower, and were able to shimmy across 70 feet from the burning Arizona while they were on fire to the Vestal to their safety. Lauren Bruner, 70 percent of his body was burned, shot in the leg. Don Stratton suffered bodily burns, spent a year in the hospital as a result, went back into the service to continue the rest of the war.

This chamber, Congress, we helped make sure that the gentleman who threw that rope, that lifeline, from the Vestal to the Arizona received final recognition for his act of heroism. Joe George, who went for decades without recognition for his act of bravery that saved these six sailors, was able to receive just a couple of years ago, December 7th, 2017, the Bronze Star and V for valor device, recognition of his acts. December 7th, 2017 also marked the last time that Donald Stratton was able to join the memorial service, to commemorate December 7th, Pearl Harbor. And I have this picture here that I’ll show of Donald Stratton, who again this weekend will be joining Ken Potts as Lauren Bruner is interred to join the other men and women who lost their lives that morning. 

This is an opportunity for us to once again say thank you to the 2,403 people overall at Pearl Harbor who were killed. The people who survived, who went on to fight the Second World War. Our veterans today who live, and continue to live the legacy that was given to them that December 7th morning.

So on Saturday as we join our families and weekend work, I hope that we’ll take a little bit of time to reflect once again on a dark chapter in American history that lead to a great American century. To be thankful to the men and women who serve our country, to the men and women who fight for our nation each and every day. To the people like Ken Potts, and Lou Conter, and Donald Stratton, who continue to remind us each and every moment why this nation is worth fighting for. 

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.

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