PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii
- Veterans who survived the Pearl Harbor attack that launched the United States into World War II attended yesterday's 73rd anniversary ceremony with the help of canes, wheelchairs and motorized scooters.
Wearing purple orchid leis, about 100 Pearl Harbor and World War II survivors attended the ceremony overlooking a memorial that sits atop sunken battleship USS Arizona.
This year's anniversary of the Japanese attack is the 10th consecutive one that USS Utah survivor Gilbert Meyer attended. But it's getting harder for Meyer, 91, to travel to Hawaii from San Antonio.
Asked if he planned to attend next year's anniversary, he responded with a chuckle, "That's like asking me if I'll still be alive."
Harold Johnson, 90, is making it a goal to attend the 75th anniversary, even though traveling from Oak Harbor, Wash., isn't always easy. "I have a little scooter that's a real life saver," the USS Oklahoma survivor said.
For many of the roughly 2,000 survivors who remain, there are painful memories.
"When the Arizona sank, she took with her 1,177 sailors and Marines," Gen. Lori Robinson, the keynote speaker, told the crowd.
Robinson also highlighted the sacrifices of the Honolulu Fire Department, which was dispatched to respond after receiving the alarm at 8:05 a.m. "Without knowing it, the Honolulu Fire Department was going to war," she said. "Three firefighters would never return, and six others would be seriously injured."
The ceremony also featured a Japanese peace prayer, a blessing and a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the minute the attack began.