Pearl Harbor Survivors Stayed Home This Year

Service members gathered for scaled-back ceremony
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 7, 2020 6:03 PM CST
This Year, Pearl Harbor Survivors Stayed Home
American ships burn during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in this Dec. 7, 1941 photo.   (AP Photo, File)

US servicemen and women and National Park Service officials gathered at Pearl Harbor on Monday to remember those killed in the attack—but elderly survivors stayed home to pay their respects from afar to avoid health risks from the coronavirus pandemic. The USS Arizona battleship bell rang at 7:55am, the minute the attack began 79 years ago, to start a moment of silence, the AP reports. F-22 jets then flew overhead in missing man formation. The Arizona today lies at the bottom of the harbor, where it sank shortly after being hit by two bombs. The battleship lost 1,177 sailors and Marines, including more than 900 who remain entombed on board. Altogether, more than 2,300 US troops died in the attack. The US military streamed the ceremony live online for survivors and others unable to attend in person.

"I think what we see today here is the resolve, despite a pandemic, for us to be able to pay our respects, to thank the greatest generation," Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said in his keynote address. "It also is a reminder to all that nothing will stop us." Marines performing a rifle salute wore black masks during the ceremony, which featured a smaller crowd than in typical years. Warren Upton, a 101-year-old who served on the USS Utah, understood why he could not attend in person this year. "I think it’s too bad, but it’s for safety reasons," Upton said from his home in San Jose, California, before Monday's ceremony. Upton said he doesn't mind talking about the day of the attack. What upsets him more is that he lost shipmates over the years. He said only three crew members of the Utah are still alive, including himself.

(Read more Pearl Harbor stories.)

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