Residents and veterans gathered at a war memorial park on Thursday to mark 76 years since the Pearl Harbor attack by singing “God Bless America,” praying in silence and unveiling a monument with an image of the USS Arizona on it.
None of the attendees was there for that day — what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called “A date which will live in infamy.”
But they made sure to remember those who were.
“We need to keep remembering, not forget,” said Maria Brown, a senior master sergeant with the Air Force. Brown, 65, served more than 25 years in places such as Korea, Germany and England. “This helps to remind citizens that we do put our lives on the line to protect our freedoms.”
The ceremony made it clear to Kim Metcalf that just like the more than 2,000 military personnel and civilians killed at Pearl Harbor, her son, Michael, won’t be forgotten. Boynton resident Michael Metcalf died at 22 on April 22, 2012, when the U.S. Army soldier rushed to rescue his comrades in Afghanistan and drove over a bomb.
“I see all this and I talk to Michael and I tell him ‘you’ll never be forgotten.’” she said.
World War II veteran Tom Kaiser, 89, and Korean War veteran Stan Gavlick, 86, both of Delray Beach, planned the event at Veterans Memorial Park with the Boynton veterans group. They began the ceremony at noon, which was 7 a.m. in Hawaii. Japan attacked the U.S. naval base that day at 7:48 a.m.
A handful of World War II veterans gave short speeches about their time in war and what they remember from Pearl Harbor. They stood up one by one despite the heat, and with support from their canes, walkers and neighbors.
“With the declaration of war a wonderful thing happened: The people of the United States of America came together like never before,” said Evert Bergquist, 97, who landed on Utah Beach a couple of days after D-Day and in the Battle of the Bulge. He said the attack was a “bad mistake of misjudging” America.
Seven veterans were presented with quilts made by the Gold Coast Quilter’s Guild.
For Herb Dareff, an Army veteran who served in the Korean War, the blanket gave him extra comfort on his wife’s birthday. She died in March from pulmonary fibrosis. He and Sandra were married for 63 years.
Along with the quilt, Dareff, 87, was given a rose that he planned to lay on his wife’s grave later in the day.