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After 60 years, still an imfamous day

Don Green of Allyn (far right) salutes the flag during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Green was a shipfitter onboard the USS Pyro during the attack. - Rogerick Anas
Don Green of Allyn (far right) salutes the flag during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Green was a shipfitter onboard the USS Pyro during the attack.
— image credit: Rogerick Anas

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 450 veterans, military service members, students and government employees jammed the Keyport Naval Undersea Museum auditorium Friday, Dec. 7, for “Lest We Forget ... a Pearl Harbor Remembrance.”

The event marked the 60th anniversary of the attack which shoved the United States into World War II.

“We are gathered here to remember the fallen and honor the survivors,” said retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Wes Carey, who presided over the ceremony.

Fifteen survivors, all in their 70s and 80s, were recognized for their service during the attack.

“Seldom do you get so many heroes in one room,” Carey said.

New to this year’s event was the inclusion of a group of 60 first- and second-grade students from Enatai Elementary School in Bellevue singing the songs of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force.

The students, dressed in white t-shirts emblazoned with the U.S. flag, nearly stole the show with their enthusiasm and hand motions through each song.

Other performers included the Navy Band Northwest, Kitsap Chordsman and Keyport worker Vicki Gambrell, who sang the National Anthem.

Carey said he wasn’t surprised at the amount of people who attended the event, which has grown to be one of the largest of its kind since it began in 1994.

“This is undoubtedly the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” Carey said.

The attack on Pearl Harbor claimed the lives of 2,403 Americans, and injured 1,178 more. The attackers sunk 12 ships, including the battleship USS Arizona, and damaged nine more.

But instead of breaking the Americans’ spirit, the surprise attack brought the nation together.

“The most important mistake (by the Japanese) was to forget the character and resolve of the people of the United States,” Carey said.

All but three ships (the Arizona and her sister battleships, USS Oklahoma and USS Utah) were salvaged and later saw action during World War II.

The ceremony also brought about the inevitable comparisons of Pearl Harbor to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” Carey said. “Let’s remember Pearl Harbor and let’s keep America alert.”

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