By SOF Editor on Tue, 12/08/2009 - 11:16am
The U.S. Navy and the National Park Service hosted a joint memorial ceremony at Kilo Pier on Naval Station (NAVSTA) Pearl Harbor to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7.
More than 2,000 people attended the event, including 45 survivors of the bombing, which took the U.S. by surprise 68 years ago. The theme of this year's ceremony was "But Not in Shame."
To observe the start of the attack at 7:55 a.m., the Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) blew the ship's whistle, which commenced a moment of silence. Then, from the west, a formation of four F-15 Eagles from the Hawaii Air National Guard stationed at Hickam Air Force Base performed a missing-man flyover past Kilo Pier while Lake Erie rendered honors to both the USS Arizona Memorial and to Pearl Harbor survivors.
The honorable Linda Lingle, governor of the state of Hawai'i, served as one of the ceremony's guest speakers and talked about the importance of honoring the service members involved in the attack.
"Today we are blessed and honored to have so many survivors with us for today's ceremony," said Lingle. "Their legacy continues on today and will be continued on by their children and the grandchildren. The men and women who gave their lives on that morning 68 years ago are with us today through spirit. We take pride in their service to our country."
Featured speaker Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander U.S. Pacific Fleet, thanked the survivors for their sacrifice and efforts throughout the war.
"We are here today to honor and thank all of the men and women who served throughout World War II and those who were involved with the attack on Pearl Harbor," said Walsh. "It is such an honor to stand in the presence of people who gave so much of themselves and their lives so that we can live lives of promise, potential and opportunity."
Following the guest speakers' remarks, 16 wreaths were presented in honor of the service members who perished on the nine ships bombed during the attack, the five branches of the U.S. military, the state of Hawai'i and the National Park Service.
Pearl Harbor survivor Art Herriford, national president for Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, expressed the significance of honoring the survivors and the fallen service members during the attack 68 years ago.
"Anytime I come to Pearl Harbor, it is with reverence," said Herriford, who was stationed aboard USS Detroit at the time of the attack. "During the attack I saw the USS Arizona get bombed and sink within a matter of minutes, killing 1,177 Sailors and Marines. Today we honor them and everyone that was involved with the attack."
To conclude the ceremony, the U.S. Marine Corps Rifle Team from Camp H.M. Smith, Hawai'i, executed a 21-gun salute; the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band performed taps; and tug boats assigned to NAVSTA Pearl Harbor delivered a water tribute to those who served in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Throughout the day, around Pearl Harbor, other events were held in conjunction with the early morning ceremony to further honor those who defended the harbor during the attack.