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USS Midway Museum marks the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Today is the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, an attack that drew the United States into World War II. This morning, the moment was remembered at a ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum, and KPBS reporter John Carroll was there.

This is the first time there were no Pearl Harbor vets in attendance at the event.

Eighty years ago, the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was attacked by forces of what was then the Japanese Empire. After a break last year because of COVID-19, ceremonies marking the day resumed Tuesday at the USS Midway Museum.

The regular trappings of the occasion were back: The two-bell ceremony in remembrance of those who served at Pearl Harbor; two service members playing taps in a call and response form; and a wreath of flowers laid in the water below the Midway.

Out of the 16 million men and women who served in World War II, about 300,000 are left. The number of vets still alive who were at Pearl Harbor on that day is much smaller.

Two Bell Ceremony
Matthew Bowler
Veterans perform the traditional two-bell ceremony to honor the passing of San Diego's Pearl Harbor survivors. Dec. 7, 2021.

There are still some Pearl Harbor vets in San Diego, but none of them were able to attend the ceremony Tuesday. It's the first time that has happened.

USS Midway Museum marketing director Dave Koontz, himself a veteran, said it's the responsibility of this generation to make sure the attack on Pearl Harbor is never forgotten.

“They were the ones that always kept the message that we should never forget," he said. "We think it’s incumbent upon ourselves, the generations of today to continue to deliver that message so that America’s always ready 'cause we never know what’s going to happen."

Rain that was predicted to start at about the same time as the ceremony held off until the moment the event ended.