POCATELLO — Eighty years ago Tuesday, a sneak attack on the U.S Naval base at Pearl Harbor left thousands dead, 18 American ships sunk and no way for the U.S. to avoid participation in the second World War.
Eleven of the 2,403 men, women and children who lost their lives during the attack hailed from the Gem State. And one man, a sailor on the USS Detroit, found an interesting way to honor those who perished.
Pocatello native Chris Harame and his wife, Cusine Zaaccardi, would make annual trips, on Dec. 7, to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in Pocatello. There, donning Hawaiian shirts, they would drop rose petals from the bridge to the waters below honoring all who died that day in 1941.
Harame continued that tradition until his death, in 2013. And the tradition, though it had grown to include others, died with him. But on Tuesday, representatives from the Bannock County Veteran Services and the Bannock County Veteran Memorial revived it.
Bannock County Veteran Services Coordinator Melissa Hartman told EastIdahoNews.com that Harame always made sure that the lives lost at Pearl Harbor were remembered.
“This year, on the 80th commemoration, I just felt it appropriate we bring it back for Chris, because it was something that he would have wanted,” she said. “It is absolutely the best way that I can think of to honor him.”
The Pocatello Honor Guard presented the colors and fired a volley in tribute to the lives lost. And service members, including Army Staff Sergeant Justin Hillary, and veterans, including Veteran Outreach Specialist Cody De Los Reyes, scattered rose petals, the way Harame had for years.
During the ceremony, Reverend Jim Jones, a Navy veteran and friend of Hamare, offered a rousing speech which included the names of all 11 Idaho veterans who died during the attack.
Following the ceremony, Jones told EastIdahoNews.com that he was touched by the attendance of dozens.
“It excites me to see as many people as we saw today,” he said. “And it’s very important for us to remember (the attack on Pearl Harbor) because that day, as President Truman said, (it was actually President Franklin Roosevelt who said it) is a day that will live in infamy. And it has.”
It is the hope of those who coordinated the event, including Bannock County Veterans Memorial Association President Teresa Vialpando, that this celebration once again becomes an annual event, to remember and recognize the devastation the entire country felt 80 years ago.
“We want to continue it every year, because so many lives were lost. The whole world was turned upside down on the events of that day.”
Hartman agrees there should be an annual celebration, but she hopes people will remember the response to the attack rather than the attack itself.
“What happened on Dec. 7 was horrific,” she said. “But what happened on Dec. 8 — America came back, and it was beautiful. Just like Sept. 11. It was awful, horrible. But on Sept. 12, how proud we were and how united we were, that’s what’s amazing.”
And she hopes the unity of the American people that day, which she says is not as prevalent today, will make a comeback soon.
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