Pearl Harbor ceremony to be held today

The events of Dec. 7, 1941, are now vanishing from living memory. The youngest World War II veteran – someone who enlisted in 1945 at age 16, for example – would now be at least 89 years old. Anyone who was 18 at the time of the attack would be at least 95.

Tom Kukulka of AMVETS Post 1788 in Marietta said that of approximately 5,000 military veterans who live in Washington County, fewer than 10 percent saw duty in World War II and their numbers are rapidly diminishing.

“We’ve lost a huge number of them in the past 10 years,” Kukulka said. “Those still around are all over 90, some of them in their mid-90s, I see them still getting around pretty well. They’re amazing. This is to honor those World War II vets who are still with us, and to honor the fallen.”

Although an event to be held today is primarily to honor the aging veterans, Kukulka said veterans organizations such as AMVETS and the Washington County Veterans Service Office also use it as an opportunity to reach out to veterans of all ages to make them aware of their rights and benefits.

Local veteran organizations will mark the occasion with a ceremony at 10 a.m. by the Soldier’s Monument in East Muskingum Park. The public is encouraged to attend what Kukulka said will be a tribute that will be brief in recognition of what is expected to be a cold winter morning.

The event will include a color guard, a short speech by local Vietnam veteran Dave Eichhorn, music by the Marietta High School choir and the interment of wreaths into the river, accompanied by rifle fire. Veterans will be served lunch afterward at the American Legion Post 64, he said.

“We’re putting out some outreach material for veterans at the post,” he said. “That’s one way we use these events, to get veterans into the County Veterans Service office, to talk to them, to see what their needs are.”

Dec. 7 was designated by Congress as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in 1994, intended to act as an opportunity to remember the event that drew the United States into World War II and honor the 2,403 armed services members who died in the battle.

Two battleships were sunk in the Hawaiian harbor, and Kukulka noted that the bodies of many service personnel on board those ships were never recovered.

Pearl Harbor is now part of the National Park Service system and site of the major national ceremony each year.

Bruce Haas is a veterans service officer in Washington County and has attended many of the local Pearl Harbor remembrance day events.

“It’s always a very, very nice ceremony, very appropriate,” he said.

If you go

•What: National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Marietta.

•When: 10 a.m. today.

•Where: Soldier’s Monument, northwest corner of Front and Putnam streets.

•Guest speaker: Dave Eichhorn.

Source: AMVETS Post 1788.