Pearl Harbor Veteran Celebrates A Century Of Life

Updated: February 15, 2020 10:23 PM

President Franklin Roosevelt said December 7th, 1941 is a date that will live in infamy. But, very few who lived through Pearl Harbor are still alive to tell the tale.


On Saturday, one Pearl Harbor survivor celebrated a century of life. This was 100-year-old Arleigh Birk.

At his birthday party, Birk was honored with a House Resolution award. A letter from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar was also read.

“I'm proud of dad for all of the things he's done in his life and all of the changes that have happened between 1920 and now,” Brian Birk, son said.

On the morning of Pearl Harbor, Birk was on his way off the boat to take pictures for his sisters. But, the alarm sounded and plans changed.

“He's a guy who's done what he needed to all his life and more,” Brian said.

Birk was born on February 27th,1920 and grew up on a farm in Walsh County, North Dakota.

“You know, he was a product of the Depression. He was born in 1920 and of course the Depression started in 1929,” Bruce Birk, son said. “All in all, he powered through it and here we are.”

Birk served in the Navy for six years. Following his service, he got married and began a career as a welder. He had five children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren

“Everybody loves him and cares for him,” Frederick George, great-grandson said. “Very tough, strong, little bit stubborn, but he pushes through. He's determined to and wants to do as much as he can.”

Many came out to celebrate Birk’s birthday from across the country and even from across the seas in Norway on Saturday.

“It's a long journey so we went from Norway to Holland and from Holland to Minneapolis and from Minneapolis to here,” Tore Kydland, second cousin said. “It's very special. That's why we take the trip.”

From a small farm in North Dakota to the shores of Hawaii to the mines of Minnesota, Birk has made his mark and fond memories of him for many remain.

“I remember just hanging out and talking with him,” George said. “You know, he’s just been a real steady, even keel guy all his life and just a real good hard-working guy,” Bruce added.

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