WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – Seventy-five years after she went down in the Pacific, the U.S.S. Indianapolis and her crew were honored Thursday by Congress.
But not even Congress’ highest honor can escape the realities of the coronavirus.
On July 30, 1945, the day the U.S.S. Indianapolis was torpedoed in the Pacific, the United States was in the final days of World War II.
“This is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States Congress,” said Sen. Todd Young (R-IN).
Now 75 years later, Congress has honored the Indianapolis’ crew with a Congressional Gold Medal.
But not even the ship’s historic sailors and the award presentation could escape the touch of COVID-19.
Thursday’s ceremony was held virtually.
“And today, it’s an honor to finally be able to help present this medal,” Young said.
In July 1945, the Indianapolis had just finished a secret mission to deliver nuclear bomb parts to U.S. forces in the Pacific when it was destroyed by a Japanese submarine.
“Nine hundred men escaped from the ship into the water, where hundreds died over the next four days before help arrived,” said Rep. Larry Buschon (R-IN).
“And we thank the survivors, particularly those who are still with us, who have spent their lives making sure we never forget the heroism displayed that day,” added Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN).
In normal times, those remaining elderly heroes would have been invited to the ceremony.
“It is my hope that this Congressional Gold Medal helps future generations of Americans also remember the sacrifices of the greatest generation,” Carson said.
That generation, and the crew of the Indianapolis, rose above challenges no one saw coming.
“They never gave up against incredible odds and they showed incredible grit and determination and patriotism,” said former Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN).
Perhaps a fitting example for those who honor them today.