80 years after Pearl Harbor, a promise to survivors: Your stories will not be forgotten

A ceremony Tuesday to mark the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor had a dual focus.
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 3:53 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2021 at 5:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A ceremony Tuesday to mark the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor had a dual focus.

It honored the 2,400 service members and civilians who died on Dec. 7, 1941. It also offered a tribute to the Allies victory in World War II.

Several hundred gathered Tuesday morning for the commemoration at Kilo Pier. Among them: 150 World War II veterans.

Thirty-two of the honored guests were Pearl Harbor survivors. Their ranks are thinning by the day.

“In the years to come we will have fewer and fewer first-person accounts. But our resolve to ensure their stories are not forgotten will only get stronger,” National Park Service Superintendent Thomas Leatherman said.

Dick Ramsey served aboard the USS Nevada, one of the ships that survived the attack. “The Nevada fought in every area of the war. I’m always proud to say that,” he said.

World War II survivor Robert Potter said it’s important those stories continue to be shared.

“I went to an elementary school for six or seven years and talked about my experience in the war. We need to educate the young people. If we don’t, we’re going to forget about them,” he said.

There was concern bad weather might delay the commemoration, but it cleared enough to carry on.

“I don’t see the rain. I don’t see the clouds. I see the shining spirit of all of those that lost their lives on December 7, 1941, shining down on us today, thanking us for memorializing their lives, their sacrifice, and that of their families since that fateful day,” U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said.

The survivors are in their 90s; some have celebrated their 100th birthday. Every speaker echoed the same sentiment ― it’s an honor to be in their presence.

“I am in awe when I look out on Pearl Harbor every day and see the memorials. It reminds me of the sacrifice of so many who paid the ultimate price for our freedom,” said Rear Adm. Timothy Kott, Commander of Navy Region Hawaii.

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