The Colorado General Assembly had the rare privilege Friday to honor Donald Stratton of Colorado Springs, a survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on the USS Arizona.
Seaman First Class Stratton was at his battle station on the Arizona during "A Date Which Will Live in Infamy," the words President Franklin Roosevelt used to describe the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which propelled the United States into World War II. Stratton has been a resident of Colorado Springs for the past decade. The General Assembly also designated the Fillmore Street bridge over I-25 in Colorado Springs as the Donald "Don" Stratton Bridge.
Republican Rep. Larry Liston of Colorado Springs spoke of Stratton's survival and courage despite suffering horrific burns in the attack, which killed 1,177 of his shipmates.
Stratton was one of only 300 sailors who lived through the Arizona attack. He is now only one of four living survivors from the Arizona.
Liston recounted that two years after the attack, Stratton was back serving his country, assigned to the USS Stack, where he served until the end of the war.
"Donald Stratton is one of the few living legacies that can tie us to the heroism and sacrifices that so many made to ensure freedom and liberty for all of us," Liston said.
Stratton was not able to address the joint House and Senate session during the resolution (rules, you know), but Liston said if he could, the Navy veteran would say that "our country needs to be ever vigilant to safeguard freedom, that we need to have great foresight of world events, and last, but not least, we must always be prepared for our adversaries."
Stratton and his wife, Velma, have been married 68 years. They were joined in Friday's tribute by son Randy and his wife Cathy, and granddaughter, Nikki, all of Colorado Springs.