As we commemorate Memorial Day, let us remember it is much more than just an extended weekend, celebrated with parties and cookouts. Memorial Day is a holiday to remember the men and women who died while serving in one of America’s armed forces. The holiday was created after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. Today, Memorial Day honors all Americans who died while in the military service.
Mr. James Dabney (J.D.) Butler of San Antonio is one of those veterans. J.D. Butler, a naval firefighter stationed aboard the USS Arizona, visited Lucchese Boot Company in San Antonio on December 18, 1940. During his visit, he purchased a pair of black calf cowboy boots with 4 rows stitching for twenty eight dollars.
Less than a year later, on December 7, 1941, shortly after 8 a.m., Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona were bombed by Japan. The USS Arizona exploded and sank, killing 1,177 officers and crewmen. In the overall battle, Pearl Harbor and the fleet of the U.S. Navy were attacked by 353 Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes. There were eight U.S. Navy battleships damaged, with four being sunk. All but the USS Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. A total of 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed and 2,403 Americans were killed. The Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five submarines lost, a total of 65 servicemen were killed or wounded.
On May 30, 1962, the USS Arizona Memorial was opened to the public. J.D. Butler remains missing and is listed on the USS Arizona Casualty List.
This Memorial Day, we look back and thank the men and women in uniform.