|USS Indianapolis (CA-35)|
Most of you know the story of the USS Indianapolis by now. The ship carrying our city's name delivered the final components of the atomic bomb "Little Boy" and then was on its way home. A Japanese submarine delivered two torpedoes into the ship's hull tossing those that were not killed in the sinking into the shark-infested Pacific Ocean. That day was July 30, 1945.
Of the approximately 900 survivors that ended up in the ocean without lifeboats, 317 ended up being picked out of the ocean four days later. Nearly 69 years later, only 36 survivors are still alive and only 15 will be in town. The Indianapolis Star's Will Higgins penned this article about the reunion, which is due to run through Sunday. If you want to help out these veterans continue their reunions, here is a link to their website.
|The USS Indianapolis Memorial on the Canal|
Sadly, the obituary pages are filled these days with the stories of World War II veterans. We are losing these veterans at the rate of 555 per day. By this time next week, there will be almost 3,900 fewer veterans of World War II than there are today. By the end of this year, we will go under 1,000,000 surviving veterans of WWII. I don't tell you this to depress you or to make you do anything other than think. We are losing our living history...one person at a time. If you're a World War II veteran and you're reading this, thank you.
Back to the Indianapolis. Those men that did survive on that awful July day back in 1945 survived somehow against the odds because of who they were. They beat the heat and the sharks and the fear. In our city, 15 of them will gather to commemorate their own survival and their lives in the 69 years since. To all these veterans and those survivors that could not make it to the reunion, I say I'm glad you're still here to tell the story that none of us should ever forget. Many of you survived to have families and to contribute in your own ways to our our great nation. It hasn't been easy. It's probably been harder than I can ever imagine. I salute you all.