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Planning Underway For 83rd Pearl Harbor Commemoration

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Granddaughter of Pearl Harbor Survivor and Sponsor of the USS

Arizona (SSN 803) Submarine to Deliver Keynote Speech.

HONOLULU, HI. The granddaughter of USS Arizona survivor Donald Stratton will

deliver the keynote address at the 83rd Commemoration of the Pearl Harbor attack

on December 7, 2024, at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. The theme for the

Commemoration is “Forging Ahead.”

In a letter to Nikki Stratton, Pearl Harbor National Memorial Superintendent Tom

Leatherman, on behalf of the 83rd Pearl Harbor Commemoration Day Planning

Committee, formally requested that she deliver the keynote address.

“Your late grandfather, USS Arizona survivor Donald Stratton, and your late father

Randy Stratton, fought tirelessly to never forget the sacrifices made that Sunday

morning December 7, 1941,” Leatherman wrote. “As such, we feel you are a

perfect choice given your family ties to the Pearl Harbor attack, along with your

role as a sponsor for the future Virginia Class submarine USS Arizona (SSN 803).”

“It is truly a dream come true,” Nikki Stratton said. “I know my grandfather

Donald Stratton, grandmother Velma Stratton and father Randy Stratton are

looking down with pride and joy.”

“We are thrilled that Nikki will deliver the keynote,” said Aileen Utterdyke,

president and CEO of Pacific Historic Parks, a non-profit that supports the

National Park Service in the stewardship of Pearl Harbor National Memorial and a

member of the planning committee for the 83rd

. “She’s a direct descendant of a

survivor family combined with the important work she’s doing now with the first

U.S Naval vessel to be named Arizona since the battleship was sunk on the day of

infamy,” Utterdyke said

Last year’s commemoration speech was delivered by Marine fighter pilot Capt.

Daniel Hower, the great nephew of Lou Conter, the final USS Arizona survivor

who died in April at the age of 102. During his 100th birthday, Conter pinned his

pilot wings earned in WWII on Capt. Hower.

Lou Conter’s family members and friends will be attending the 83rd

Commemoration as members of the “Conterage” to honor Conter’s heroism and

efforts to educate the younger generation about the attack that changed the world.

The Stratton family will also have a large presence at the ceremony with family

members and crew members of the submarine, which is under construction in

Groton, Connecticut, with a projected completion date of 2027-2028. The sub’s

commanding officer, Thomas Digan, attended Lou Conter’s funeral in Grass

Valley, California and was part of a flag burial ceremony for the Conter family.

“I have been afforded the unique opportunity to bridge the growing historical gap

of 80+ years bringing the stories of those lives that were impacted on December 7,

1941 back into the memory of today,’ Stratton said. “The future sub will not only

be the most technologically advanced submersible on the planet but will garner a

whole new generation of historians learning about her namesake and the 1,511

sailors who served aboard her.”

A website at elaborates on the theme Forging Ahead.“The

American people rose to the challenge by forging ahead to face determined foes

around the globe, while the adversity of the war itself forged a stronger character

with those who served in the battlefields, and in the home front. They would face

the fire of war and come out stronger as individuals and as a nation.”

Contact: Jim McCoy


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