Pearl Harbor veterans honored at WWII Memorial – USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Under clear blue skies, 15 survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gathered at the National World War II Memorial to see their service of 73 years ago recognized.
“As the years stretch, the stories of every sailor, soldier, Marine, airman, nurse or citizen who was at Pearl Harbor grow more precious, and we use this anniversary to retell them,” Admiral Michelle Howard, vice chief of Naval Operations, told the 400 people gathered at the hallowed ground between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. “We understand that the collective toughness of the American people, our survival, and the eventual success of this country, is due to them.”
About a dozen of the veterans of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt termed “a day which will live in infamy,” came to Washington as guests of Honor Flight Austin. Austin, Texas, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who was scheduled to speak, was unable to attend due to sickness, so the non-profit’s chairman, Allen Bergeron, spoke in his place.
“Here you are, 73 years later, still living the American dream,” said Bergeron, addressing the veterans, now aged 91 to 95. “We’re living the American dream because of you.”
Among those veterans was Jack Jones, 91, who was aboard the battleship Tennessee when Japanese bombs began raining on Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, killing more than 2,000 men and drawing the USA into World War II.
“I was overwhelmed,” Jones said. “We had to clean up the harbor — take the dead and bury them. I was just 17 years old. It kind of missed up my head a little bit. Everybody says you’re a hero, but I was just a fuzzy-faced kid who did what others did.”
The event, co-hosted by Friends of the National World War II Memorial and the National Park Service, also featured appearances by the United States Navy Ceremonial Band, the Armed Forces Color Guard, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks Robert Vogel, and chairman of the Friends of the National World War II Memorial, Lt. Gen. Claude Kicklighter.