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Pearl Harbor, 9/11, kindle similar feelings

Jim Stansell, president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Association, North Cascades Chapter 5, exits the remembrance ceremony Monday.  - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Jim Stansell, president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Association, North Cascades Chapter 5, exits the remembrance ceremony Monday.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Sixty-eight years ago Monday is a day still fresh in the minds of Pearl Harbor survivors.

That was obvious Monday in a ceremony at Crescent Harbor sponsored by Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and the Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Association, North Cascades Chapter 5.

The Japanese attack lasted 110 minutes, killed 2,403 men and women, wounded 1178 wounded and left 640 unaccounted for, Lt. Cmdr. Chaplain Philip King said during the ceremony.

Jim Stansell, a Pearl Harbor survivor and president of the local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Association, returned to the remembrance this year for the 11th time to address the ever-dwindling population of survivors in attendance.

“It’s a little harder to get up to the microphone these days,” he joked before transitioning to a more serious tone.

“One again we turn time back to Dec. 7, 1941 ... and we’re reminded that freedom was not and is not free,” he said.

Capt. Thomas A. Slais, Jr., Commander of Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, addressed the survivors, widows and others at the ceremony from a different, and more modern point of view.

“The prominence of Pearl Harbor was relived on September 11, 2001,” he said.

Capt. Slais, who was in the Pentagon on 9/11, felt shock and loss, he said, emotions that must have been shared by those at Pearl Harbor.

“We are who we are today because of your sacrifice,” he said. “The flame of freedom burns bright in this new generation of American warriors.”

Cmdr. Mike McKenna, Commanding Officer of VP-129, also spoke at the remembrance, which concluded with survivors and widows placing a wreath and white carnations in Crescent Harbor.

“It’s inspiring to look around the room and see the breadth of military uniforms of the men and women sitting among us,” said Cmdr. McKenna.

“We call it the greatest generation for a lot of reasons,” he said. “One is that you continue to show up year after year.”

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