(WTRF) – 2,403 lives lost, more than 1,000 wounded and a nation forever changed. 

It’s the day that lives in infamy, still 80-years after that fateful day at Pearl Harbor and the Mountain State will forever be tied to some of the heroes that perished on the ship that bore West Virginia’s name.

 Seven ships were severely damaged, however five of those were rebuilt and reconstituted and one of those was the USS. West Virginia, which then did see action in World War II, at the end of World War II.

James Siekmeier, Associate Professor of History, West Virginia University

The USS Oklahoma could not be salvaged and the USS Arizona remains underwater in its final resting place at Pearl Harbor after one of the deadliest days in American history. 

The temporary loss of the other ships, including the USS West Virginia, left a void in the Navy for most of World War II. 

The United States, with the attack at Pearl Harbor, had to fight most of the war with aircraft carriers and submarines. Then by the end of the war it had its battleships.

James Siekmeier, Associate Professor of History, West Virginia University

The USS West Virginia was rebuilt towards the end of 1944 then decommissioned in 1947, however parts of the ship remain as a memorial to the lives lost below her decks. One of the antiaircraft guns stands at the city park in Parkersburg. The ship’s wheel is at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Hampton Roads, Virginia. 

Students at West Virginia University raised funds to save the ship’s mast in 1959, where it still stands on campus.

So the mast, just before the ship was totally destroyed, was shipped from Seattle by train in 1961 to West Virginia University.

James Siekmeier, Associate Professor of History, West Virginia University

Siekmeier explained as important as it is to honor those who died at Pearl Harbor, we must also recount how that day changed history and lead to troops being shipped overseas to fight in World War II. 

There was a large chunk of American society that did not want to go to war no matter what. Not in Asia, not in Europe, not anywhere and then with the Pearl Harbor attack that changed U.S. opinion dramatically and the United States went to total war.

James Siekmeier, Associate Professor of History, West Virginia University

December 7, 1941 was the deadliest day on American Soil since the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War. The country wouldn’t see another like it until September 11, 2001. 

A lot of Americans remember where they were in 1941 and people of our generation remember where they were on 9/11.

James Siekmeier, Associate Professor of History, West Virginia University