Survivors remember Pearl Harbor


December 08, 2007|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,Sun reporter

The veterans listened intently as the bell tolled again and again.

Fifteen times it rang, honoring each of 15 known Pearl Harbor survivors from Maryland who died since the previous remembrance of that day of infamy in 1941.

No more than 75 Pearl Harbor survivors remain alive in Maryland -- of those, six attended yesterday's annual event in Annapolis, which marked the 66th anniversary of the day Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States, propelling the country into World War II.

Veterans of wars in Korea and Vietnam, though, filed in on a shivering, overcast day to let the few remaining Pearl Harbor survivors know their sacrifice of that fateful day had not been forgotten.

"The memory of their sacrifice and trauma should be remembered," said Patric Enright, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 304 in Annapolis. "We veterans gather to do just that."

"They carried on under extraordinary circumstances," Enright said of the Pearl Harbor veterans, who persevered after the death of 2,400 U.S. service members and civilians that day in Hawaii. "The least we can do is come out in the freezing rain and do this."

Gov. Martin O'Malley, who attended the ceremony along with more than 40 others at the Maryland's World War II memorial overlooking the Severn River, said the sneak attack ushered in an era when America stood up to tyranny around the world.

"They tried to make us weaker," O'Malley said. "We made ourselves stronger."

Paul Downey, 74, of Pasadena said he fought alongside many World War II veterans during his time in Korea more than 50 years ago. He said their sense of duty to their country set them apart. He said more than 30 of his relatives fought in the Second World War.

"They knew we were not going to keep this country free unless you answered the call," Downey said. "That's how all these guys felt."

With many veterans of World War II well into their 80s, and their numbers diminishing with each day, others said the events that honor Pearl Harbor grow in importance.

Pearl Harbor survivor George V. Martin, 88, of Westminster joined O'Malley and others in laying a wreath at the marker honoring the five Marylanders who died during that attack.

Martin, a private first class at the time, said he felt compelled to attend the ceremony.

"This is probably my last chance to come," he said.

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