Pearl Harbor – One Final Gathering

“PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — Nearly 500 survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor will honor those who died 65 years ago with a moment of silence and a wreath laying ceremony on the anniversary of the assault Thursday.

Many veterans are treating the gathering as their last, uncertain they will still be alive, or healthy enough, to travel to Hawaii for the 70th anniversary.

“Sixty-five years later, there’s not too many of us left,” said Don Stratton, a seaman 1st class aboard the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. “In another five years I’ll be 89. The good Lord willing, I might be able to make it. If so, I’ll probably be here. I might not even be around. Who knows. Only the good Lord knows.”

Survivors, family members and others gathered for the commemoration will observe a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the minute planes began bombing Pearl Harbor 65 years ago.

A priest will give a Hawaiian blessing and Marines will perform a rifle salute.

Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, whose book “The Greatest Generation” profiles those who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.

Stratton and other survivors will later board a boat to the white memorial straddling the sunken hull of the Arizona, where they will lay wreaths and lei in honor of the dead.

The Arizona sank in less than nine minutes after a 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb struck the battleship’s deck and hit its ammunition magazine, igniting flames that engulfed the ship.

More people died on the Arizona than any other ship as 1,177 servicemen, or about 80 percent of its crew, perished.

Altogether, the surprise attack killed 2,390 Americans and injured 1,178.”

And another generation heads into the sunset. Much gratitude for their sacrifices and their courage.

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