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Veterans come together for Pearl Harbor Remembrance
Thirty people, many of them veterans and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Colusa and the Maxwell American Legion, gathered at the Colusa County courthouse on Saturday for the annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony.
Gene Beecham — a Vietnam veteran — delivered the opening prayer, and Anastasia Azevedo sang the national anthem as the flag was lowered to half-mast in honor of the lives lost during the surprise military strike that led the United States into World War II 72 years ago.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval fleet stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
In two waves, 351 Japanese planes — including torpedo bombers, dive bombers, horizontal bombers and fighters — sunk or damaged 21 ships of the U.S. Pacific fleet, destroyed 188 aircraft and damaged 159 more and killing 2,403 Americans, including 68 civilians. In addition, 1,178 military personal and civilians were wounded.
The conditions on Saturday morning made for a fittingly somber tribute during a three-volley salute from a seven-member rifle team and the playing of "Taps" by a trumpeter.
"Boy, 'Taps' sure sounded good in this fog," someone remarked after the ceremony.
"The guns sounded good, too. The shots really echoed," said Colusa Veterans of Foreign Wars Post commander Dennis Sanders, who conducted the ceremony.
None of the veterans in attendance could say for sure how many years the ceremony has been held in Colusa. John Tiernan, a veteran and retired Superior Court judge, said he had been attending since 1986, but that the ceremony was taking place well before then. Tiernan served in the U.S. Navy from 1961-71 in addition to serving in the California Army National Guard.
"It could go back to the 1960s, but that's just an educated guess," Sanders said.