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Words, flowers, remember Pearl Harbor
A crowd of about 50 people gathered at the Seaplane Base Marina in Oak Harbor Wednesday to honor the thousands of men and women who gave their lives during the historic Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor 70 years ago.
The annual ceremony began with opening comments by U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Shawn Capps and followed with a moving prayer from Electronic Attack Wing Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Dan Link.
“We are here for them,” said Link, referring to the those who fought and died in the Dec. 7 battle, which sparked America’s involvement in World War II.
Capt. John Springett, deputy commander Electronic Attack Wing U.S. Pacific Fleet, was the main speaker at the service. He echoed Link’s sentiments while specifically mentioning several veterans in attendance.
“I’m really proud and really honored to be up here and really proud and honored to be in your presence,” Springett said.
The importance of survivors cannot be understated as they are a direct link, the anchor, that connects and reminds us of all the attack at Pearl Harbor means, he said. Today’s generation does have some understanding of such conflict, having suffered the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, he said.
Those attacks also resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans and has led to the longest period of war the country has ever seen, Springett said.
“There is an inevitable and direct linkage of those two terrible days that will live in infamy,” he said.
The ceremony was concluded when a wreath and flowers were tossed into the waters of Puget Sound by Shirley Gilbert of Burlington and Gayle Vyskocil of Anacortes. Both belong to Pearl Harbor Survivor’s Association Chapter Five and are widows of men who were there.
“It was very moving for me,” Gilbert said.
Her late husband, Edward, served on the USS Dewey. Having visited the USS Arizona memorial with him before he passed, she said the ceremony brought back some memories.
“All I could see were the drops of oil that come up from the Arizona,” she said.
Sarah Cummings also attended the ceremony. Like Gilbert and Vyskocil, her late husband Delmer was at Pearl Harbor. A member of the Coast Guard, he witnessed the attack unfold from a distance.
“He watched through his binoculars as the planes hit the ships,” Cummings said.
Although she was not there personally, and 70 years have since passed, remembrance ceremonies were always important to her husband and therefore became important to her. She has thrown the wreath many times herself.
“Very emotional, even yet,” Cummings said.