Dallas American Legion marks Pearl Harbor anniversary

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected] | December 7th, 2017 10:30 pm - updated: 12:15 am.

DALLAS — The bugler played “To the Colors” as the American flag was raised Thursday morning at the start of a Pearl Harbor commemorative ceremony. 

Once the flag was hoisted to the top of the flagpole, it was then lowered to half-staff in honor of all those who have died in service to our country, especially those who died Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

“As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, ‘This day will live in infamy,’ and we will never forget,” said Clarence Michael, an Army veteran. “I have visited Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. We have come through the attack on Pearl Harbor, the loss of our battleships and the loss of so many soldiers.”

Michael said many people still wonder why Pearl Harbor happened. He acknowledged that many World War II veterans are gone, but he said it is important to remember them and their stories.

“We must never forget what they died for,” Michael said. “We must celebrate their service to our country — the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Participating in the ceremony at the Daddow-Isaacs Dallas American Legion Post 672, were: Michael, Joe Kelly, U.S. Navy; George Tucker, U.S. Army Airborne; Art Parks, commander at the Dallas Legion; and John Emil Sr., U.S. Air Force.

Michael said he hopes that history like Pearl Harbor is still being taught in our schools. He said he knows of many young people who don’t know what Pearl Harbor is or who George Washington was.

“We need to keep teaching these lessons in our schools,” Michael said. “But too often, they come up short.”

According to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, we are losing 372 veterans per day and only 558,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II remain alive.

There were Pearl Harbor ceremonies held Thursday throughout the country and several were held in Luzerne County to commemorate the anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and six other military bases on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The attack precipitated America’s entry into World War II.

The ceremonies remember the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed — 1,178 more were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships: the USS Arizona and the USS Utah.

On Aug. 23, 1994, the United States Congress designated Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Survivor returns

According to an Associated Press story, survivors gathered Thursday at the site of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to remember fellow servicemen killed in the early morning raid 76 years ago, paying homage to those who died with a solemn ceremony marking the surprise bombing.

About 20 survivors attended the event. They were joined by about 2,000 Navy sailors, officials and members of the public.

Gilbert Meyer, who lived through the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing, said he returned to pay his respects to his shipmates from the USS Utah — and say a prayer for them.

Herbert Elfring remembered hearing bombs explode and initially thought the explosions were U.S. training exercises.

Then a fighter plane with Japan’s Rising Sun insignia strafed the Camp Makaole base where Elfring, 19 at the time, was serving. The bullets missed him by about 15 feet.

The Navy and National Park Service host the ceremony each year at the same time the attack began. Usually, a Navy vessel with sailors manning the rails passes by the USS Arizona Memorial during the event.

George Tucker, right, and Joe Kelley stand ready before performing a gun salute on Thursday during a Pearl Harbor ceremony at the Dallas American Legion Post 672.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_TTL120817PearlHarbor1-1.jpgGeorge Tucker, right, and Joe Kelley stand ready before performing a gun salute on Thursday during a Pearl Harbor ceremony at the Dallas American Legion Post 672. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Members of the Dallas American Legion Post 672 begin to raise the flag Thursday during a ceremony to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_TTL120817PearlHarbor3-1.jpgMembers of the Dallas American Legion Post 672 begin to raise the flag Thursday during a ceremony to remember the attack on Pearl Harbor. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Clarence Michael salutes the flag as John Emil plays taps during a small ceremony Thursday outside the Dallas American Legion Post that marked the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_TTL120817PearlHarbor2-1.jpgClarence Michael salutes the flag as John Emil plays taps during a small ceremony Thursday outside the Dallas American Legion Post that marked the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle


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