MARIETTA - Seventy-one years after the attack on Pearl Harbor and thousands of miles away, a small group of area residents honored those that died in the attack by tossing a wreath into the Muskingum River.
Eleven people gathered in the parking lot where East Muskingum Park abuts the Putnam Bridge in Marietta Friday morning, and eight made their way onto the bridge for the brief ceremony.
Although he would like to see more people turn out for the occasion, AMVETS Post 1788 First Vice Commander James Rhodes repeated the promise he makes each year that the ceremony will continue as long as even one person comes.
Photo by Evan Bevins
AMVETS Post 1788 Commander Danny Hills, left, thanks those who attended Friday’s brief ceremony in which the attack on Pearl Harbor 71 years ago was honored by a wreath being thrown from the Putnam Bridge into the Muskingum River. Also pictured is post First Vice Commander James Rhodes.
"Most people don't even know what Pearl Harbor is. And we think it's an important part of our history as veterans and as citizens of the United States," he said.
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese planes launched an attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,390 service members and 49 civilians, sinking 19 ships and drawing the nation into World War II.
Post 1788 Commander Danny Hills said the date which President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed more than seven decades ago would "live in infamy" must be maintained in the minds of Americans. He noted that many people today know little, if anything, about the Spanish-American War, and he doesn't want to see Pearl Harbor and World War II fade in the same way.
"If we don't keep up with all the mistakes that (were) made, it can happen again," he said, pointing to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
In addition to remembering the past, Hills said the event is intended to honor those serving today.
Younger people need to know that military service and war are "no picnic," added Rhodes. "If they ever have to do it, they got to know that someone's been there before."
Rhodes said he was sorry there were no Pearl Harbor or World War II veterans in attendance, acknowledging their numbers continue to dwindle.
"If they had to come in an ambulance, we'd wait for them," he said. "It's about them. It's not about us."