VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, UNITED STATES
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karen Blankenship Navy Public Affairs Support Element East
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Tidewater Chapter 2 hosted an Annual Pearl Harbor Survivors Remembrance Ceremony at Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek-Fort Story, Dec. 7.
Twelve survivors attended the ceremony, which marks the 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that claimed the lives of more than 2,300 service members and prompted the United States to enter World War II.
"They are ordinary people, yet extraordinary people who helped lead this great country through sheer tragedy, to resounding victory," said Capt. Charles Stuppard, commander JEB. "They worked, raised their families and lived amongst us. They are who reporter Tom Brokaw rightfully titled his bestselling book, 'The Greatest Generation."
Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., commander, U.S. Marine Forces Command and the guest speaker during the ceremony, echoed that same sentiment during his speech.
"The strength of America is in that we keep having the next greatest generation," said Paxton. "So I assure the 12 of you today that your service was noble, your sacrifice doesn't go unrecognized and that we remember your shipmates."
The ceremony, which was held at the Pearl Harbor Monument on JEB, commenced at 12:55 p.m., the exact time the 1941 attack began. The monument was built and dedicated in 1990 by the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. An expansion to the monument was completed in 2001 and included the addition of 184 names of local survivors of the attack.
"The fact that these 12 survivors, and indeed many of their mates from the Second World War, labored through those next five years and went through those sacrifices, went through that service, saw that death and destruction and bore those physical or emotional scars themselves is an indication that the greatness of this nation and an indication of the ideals that those 12 men represented on the 7th of December when they were wearing the cloth of our nation," said Paxton.
As part of the commemoration, a simple 8-bell ceremony was performed during which the survivors stated their name, rank and the command to which they were assigned in 1941. The ceremony also included a wreath laying and 21-gun salute.
"The ceremony was great today," said Ernest Davenport, a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack and 21-year Navy veteran. "It was one of the best I've ever attended out here."
During his famous speech after the attack, Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God."
Japan formally surrendered aboard USS Missouri while anchored in Tokyo Bay the morning of Sept. 2, 1945, nearly four years after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
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