By Elaine Owen, Editor ~~
Just before 8 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese planes made a surprise raid on Pearl Harbor, a major U.S. Naval base near Honolulu.
During the raid, which was launched from aircraft carriers, nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight battleships, were damaged or destroyed, as well as more than 300 aircraft. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and at least 1,000 were wounded.
The attack brought the United States into World War II. Until the raid, the U.S. had hesitated to join the conflict, which had started on Sept. 1, 1939, after Germany invaded Poland. In those nearly 2 1/2 years, the U.S. had supported the United Kingdom, virtually the sole source of resistance to the Nazis in Europe, but a general mood of isolationism — brought on by the Great Depression and the memory of huge losses during World War I — led Roosevelt and Congress to be wary of intervention.
Pearl Harbor reversed that in under a day, when Congress, less than an hour after Roosevelt’s speech, issued a declaration of war—and the United States entered World War II.
Seventy-six years later, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 members of the North Georgia Honor Guard held their annual ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park to remember and honor those who died or were wounded in that attack.
Keith Hunter, who served in the United States Navy 30 years and became a U.S. citizen last month, was speaker.
Hunter thanked those who braved the cold to gather together to remember those lost and wounded.
“Not only did the U.S. lose personnel, ships and planes, but the Japanese also lost men and aircraft. Nearly 30 planes were shot down and five submarines were destroyed. The attack took a tremendous toll on the United States—and as history tells us, was the day that changed the world.”
During the ceremony, Captain Dale Dyer, a World War II veteran who was a member of the Army Air Corps and flew bombing missions during the war talked about his memory of Dec. 7, 1941.
Dyer was a college student in Manhattan, Kansas, when he learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He began, “When we got the news, several of us were in a theater preparing to watch a movie. Before the movie came on, a man in military uniform came on the stage and instructed all the military personnel in the theater to report to their command immediately, “Nearly half the people in the theater began leaving because Fort Riley, Kan. was nearby.”
“It was an emotional time for us and for all Americans, but our country came together and each one did his or her part to help out.”
Dyer would celebrate his 98th birthday Dec. 8.
Another veteran, Robert Brown, also remembers Pearl Harbor.
He was only 18 when he was drafted into the U.S. Navy May 12, 1943. After 12 weeks of training at Bainbridge, Md., he was assigned to the U.S.S. Biloxi. This warship began her career as the Allied forces opened fire on Japanese-held Wotje Island in the Marshalls group.
In 1945, Brown was assigned to U.S.S. Providence and served there until Japan surrendered. He returned to Jacksonville, Fla. for discharge Nov. 12. 1945. Brown and his wife Sybil are active in the American Legion and Auxiliary.
Navy veteran Greg Coffone was master of ceremonies and handled music for the event.