On December 7, 1941 - 71 years ago - Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii which was then still a U.S. territory. The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed and the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized. Dozens of ships and hundreds of aircraft were destroyed or damaged. More than 3,500 Americans were killed or wounded in this surprise attack that catapulted our nation into World War II.
Addressing Congress the following day, President Franklin Roosevelt called December 7th "a date which will live in infamy," and the course of our nation was forever changed.
The men and women who served in our armed forces during World War II, and those who kept the home fires burning, were a special kind - selfless, dedicated, and brave patriots. Journalist and author Tom Brokaw called them the "Greatest Generation" and recognized the values that united them - duty, honor, economy, courage, service, and love of family and country to name a few.
Now, 71 years later, their ranks are dwindling, but their love of country has never waned. If you know or meet a World War II veteran, I encourage you to take time to hear their stories and thank them for their service. They are a part of our history that has helped shaped our nation.
I would like to share with you another story of a selfless hero – one right here in our midst in Orange County – a part of our Team Orange.
Last week, Registered Nurse Tiottia Russ, a member of the Orange County Department of Health’s Public Health Division, stopped for a routine visit with one of her patients in Sparrowbush. The visit ended up being anything but routine for Tiottia.
When she arrived, Tiottia heard screaming coming from the multi-family home. Rushing in, she encountered smoke as she approached the top of the stairs. Entering the apartment she saw it aglow with flames. The screams were coming from the patient’s teenaged grandchildren who were urging her to get out of the building.
Tiottia leapt into action and was able to get her patient out of the building, just moments before an explosion and an eruption of flames. She even had the presence of mind to bang on other apartment doors as she ran out of the burning building.
During an interview with a local cable television station, the reporter asked Tiottia if she saw herself as a hero. She humbly responded that she was not a hero, but that she was just doing her job – caring for her patient – because that’s what nurses do.
I want Tiottia to know that we in Orange County are extremely proud of her. Her bravery, quick action, and calm demeanor saved lives last Friday. We’re proud to call her a member of Team Orange. Thank you, Tiottia!
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.