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Patriotic Article
War and Tragedy

By USMC LCpl. Jonathan Wright

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A Day In Infamy Not Soon Forgotten
(January 22, 2011)

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (1/19/2011) - The purpose: Prevent the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with any future operations in Southeast Asia. The mission: Attack and deter the enemy with 353 airplanes. The target: Pearl Harbor.

Dec. 7, 1941, the “date which will live in infamy,” as stated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, marked the United States' entrance into World War II after elements of the Imperial Japanese Navy launched an airborne attack against Naval Base Pearl Harbor.

Dec. 7 has since been recognized as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, a day that brings all the Department of Defense veterans of the various Onslow County veterans organizations together for the annual Pearl Harbor Day Memorial Service. This year it was held at the American Legion Burton-Cowell Post 265 building in Jacksonville, N.C.

“Today is all about respecting and remembering what our forefathers did for this country,” said Paul Levesque, president of Rolling Thunder chapter NC-5 motorcycle club. “It's where all the vets in the community can come together and honor those who were lost and who survived that day.”

Veterans from their respective organizations came out in droves for the service, representing the American Legion, Rolling Thunder, Marine Corps League, Women Marine Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Military Order of the Purple Heart.

“All the veteran organizations conduct their own separate ceremonies, but on this day they all come together as one group,” said Roy Oldhan, 2nd vice-commander of the American Legion post. “My grandfather died in that attack, so its remembrance is something near and dear to my heart. Yet even if someone's family wasn't involved, they should still remember what drove us into one of the most major events in American history.”

The memorial services opened with the Rolling Thunder's presentation of the prisoner of war/missing in action table ceremony followed by the song “God Bless America” sung by the Jacksonville High School choir. The guest speaker, retired Sgt. Maj. Richard McGee, then took the podium to speak about his experience during that fateful day.

“I was four and a half years old and listening to the Green Hornet on the radio when Roosevelt interrupted the program and told the country what had just happened,” said McGee. “And though we were 6,000 miles from Pearl Harbor, it had a scary reverberation across the country as if the distance didn't matter.”

As McGee stepped down, a wreath was lifted by two American Legion members. The announcer described, as it was walked down the aisle, that the wreath was in honor and undying remembrance of those men and women who perished in the attack 69 years ago.

“We can never forget what happened and we must always remain vigilant,” said McGee. “We must never forget Pearl Harbor.”

As the service drew to a close and the scores of veterans prepared to take their leave, many cast a thoughtful gaze upon the solemn wreath; some remembering where they were when the Japanese planes broke the horizon while others recounted their own war milestones. Whether or not at Pearl Harbor, in an armed conflict or even a service member, the memory of Dec. 7, 1941, should not be forgotten by any single man or women; so long as we live, so shall they live on.
By USMC LCpl. Jonathan Wright
Camp LeJeune Base Public Affairs
Copyright 2011

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