American Legion honors those lost in Pearl Harbor attack

Group honors those who lost their lives in Pearl Harbor attack
Group honors those who lost their lives in Pearl Harbor attack
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 11:43 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2022 at 9:09 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - American Legion is proud to hold the Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance Program every year. They invite anyone to attend the memorial to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

“A date that will live in infamy,” is what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese launched their planned attack on American soil. Wednesday marked 81 years from the exact day where 2,403 service members and civilian’s lost their lives during the attacks.

A further 1,178 people were injured in the disaster. The attack also caused two U.S. Navy battleships to sink; the USS Arizona and the USS Utah and destroyed a 188 aircraft.

Wednesday’s memorial had survivors, veterans and other members of the community in attendance at the Tennessee Veterans Cemetery. The cemetery is full of over 5,000 men and women who have dedicated their lives to this country, and they hold the event here every year.

Murray Ayres came to pay her respects, since she was actually living on base at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attacks. Ayres’ father, Joseph Orr, was the Navy doctor station in Hawaii at the time and their family lived right across from the harbor. Ayres was only six years old at the time and said she remembers the day like it was yesterday.

“I had just woken up to get the newspaper and I looked up and saw Japanese planes flying over me. I didn’t know what was going on, but I saw my father throw his uniform over his pajamas and head to the hospital, so I knew it was serious because I’d never seen him do that before,” she said.

Ayres added that she didn’t see her father for over a week after the attacks, but he did survive. Many people who lived close to her and her family never saw some family members that lived on base again.

“The noise was horrible, and then the fires started. I remember my mother got upset, and she never gets upset, or never panics. My father was very gentle, but he told my mom ‘Margret, you need to take the girls to Honolulu,’” Ayres said.

Ayres, who lived with her father, mother and younger sister at the time, made it to San Francisco with her family and was able to get out of Pearl Harbor safely. Unfortunately, others weren’t so lucky.

This is why American Legion is so passionate about this memorial: because their hope is to engage and educate the future generations of Americans and honor the brave souls who defended, and continue to defend, the U.S.