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VIDEO: Remembering Pearl Harbor

A moment of silence for survivors and their families. - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
A moment of silence for survivors and their families.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

A commemoration ceremony was held Dec. 5, at the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Seaplane Base Marina to remember those lost that day, and honor the survivors who remember one of the most infamous days in history.

Jim Stansell's speech, Dec. 5, 2008

President of Pearl Harbor Survivors Association North Cascade Chapter 5

After 67 years, that horrible memory of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, is still very vivid in the memory of those of us that have survived. Whether it was the sight of the USS Arizona exploding and rising out of the water, then settling back in a crumbed mass of twisted steel and fire, and at the same time knowing that many hundreds of young men such as myself were dying in those few horrible moments. Or the sight of the USS Utah being hard hit and capsizing, her surviving crew dashing about looking for a place of safety. There were none, only on the water. Or the Ford Air Station, hangers burning and airplanes exploding and burning. The heroic air crews working and dying against impossible odds. Or the many explosions and devastating fires engulfing Battleship Row. Or the huge fires and explosions that were taking place at the many and various locations such as the dry dock and the Navy yard. The sky was full of Japanese air craft and bursting shells and our own shrapnel mixed with bombs and bullets from enemy aircraft. Or the sailors in the water, all fighting for safety and survival— some would survive, some would not.

But probably the worst nightmare was the fact that hundreds of young men were being instantly put to death in those explosions and resulting fires. We remember.

As the ship I was on a destroyer, USS Hull cleared the harbor late that afternoon. We looked back over Pearl Harbor and above the black smoke and fire we saw a beautiful rainbow arching above the carnage. Was it some kind of celestial omen, or did it just happen to appear? Later discussions provided no answers.

Each one of us saw the horrible surprise attack from different locations and perspectives. Each account may differ but the results were the same.

We may forget where we put the car keys. We may have forgotten to put the car out. We may have misplaced our coats. But after 67 years, we vividly remember Pearl Harbor and so on this day we pay tribute to those young men who gave their lives on Dec. 7, 1941. They were the first American heroes of World War II.

Yes, we do remember.

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