STERLING – Just days before the 82nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sterling American Legion Post 296 on Sunday was the site of a ceremony remembering the events of that day.
Legion members, family and community members filled the Legion, where they heard a speech from Post Commander Nelson Vasquez. A three-volley rifle salute and the playing of taps followed to remember those who lost their lives in the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The Japanese attack took place at 7:55 a.m. that Sunday, claiming the lives of 2,403 service members and 68 civilians. It was the first attack on the nation’s soil and the catalyst for the U.S. joining World War II.
“Dec. 7, 1941, is remembered as a day of bravery,” Vasquez said, noting 15 Medals of Honor were awarded to U.S. sailors as a result of the Pearl Harbor attacks as were 51 Navy Crosses and 53 Silver Stars. “Thousands of other acts of heroism occurred on that day 82 years ago.”
“Eight U.S. battleships were severely damaged in the surprise attack; 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed, 2,403 Americans dead,” he said when describing what the sailors saw that day. “They made a lot of wartime movies later on, but none could match the scene.”
“We must remember Pearl Harbor as an ordinary Sunday morning in which unsuspectedly American servicemen displayed extraordinary heroism,” he said. “Eighty-two years later, we still remember.”
Sunday’s observance also included the ceremonial folding of a U.S flag that had flown over the nation’s Capitol and the USS Arizona.
The Sterling American Legion Post 296 is at 601 First Ave. It has a long history of helping local veterans understand and apply for benefits, and also works to improve the community, through scholarships for high school students and community outreach programs. It takes the lead on Memorial Day and Veterans Day activities, and provides an Honor Guard for veterans’ funerals and community events.