SAN DIEGO – More than 250 veterans, attack survivors and members of the local community, gathered aboard the USS Midway Museum in the San Diego harbor to remember the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7.
The annual remembrance ceremony included stories told by Pearl Harbor survivors, prayer, taps, a two-bell ceremony honoring survivors who have passed, a wreath presentation and a gunfire salute.
Pearl Harbor survivor and retired Navy Capt. Jack Evans spoke at the event to provide an account of the events of Dec. 7, 1943, as he experienced them and also discussed the importance of current military readiness.
“Military readiness, being prepared is important,” said Evans. “Our motto is ‘Remember Pearl Harbor, keep America alert’ and America needs that.”
Retired Navy Rear Adm. Mac McLaughlin, CEO and president of the USS Midway Museum, hosted the ceremony and stressed the importance of continuing the legacy handed down by the nation’s veterans.
“It’s very important to pass the torch from one generation to the next,” said McLaughlin. “It’s an opportunity for America to come and own a piece of their legacy.”
According to McLaughlin, fewer Pearl Harbor survivors were in attendance at this year’s 9th anniversary ceremony at the museum.
“I think this will be a big test for America,” said McLaughlin. “Today when they rang the bell there were 12 fewer Pearl Harbor survivors than had come to the previous ceremony. There will come a day when we have a Pearl Harbor ceremony without any Pearl Harbor survivors in attendance and that will be a challenge for us all. It’s easy to thank them when they are in attendance but it is really all of us who own what they stand for.”
Though survivor participation was down this year over previous years, general attendance was encouraging to Scott McGaugh, director of marketing for the museum.
“We have had this ceremony every year since 2004 and regrettably while the number of survivors is less each year, the attendance from the community is growing,” McGaugh said. “This year we had our highest Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony attendance.”
McGaugh also stressed the importance of focusing on the next generation.
“A huge part of our focus has always been passing the legacy on to the next generation,” said McGaugh. “Typically grandfathers today were born after World War II. If you are 40 years old or younger, you were born after Vietnam and 12 years old and younger were born after 9-11. So as military conflicts become more removed from civilians, we like to think it’s ceremonies like this that provide that connective tissue between those who are serving and those who aren’t.”
The USS Midway Museum hosts more than 760 events each year from active duty re-enlistments to corporate meetings, all of which help to preserve military history and honor the sacrifices veterans made and continue to make for our country.
For more information about the USS Midway Museum visit http://www.midway.org/. Learn more about Navy Public Affairs Support Element West at http://www.navy.mil/local/nrpacensd/.