Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen joined Heather Mabee (center) and other members of the Daughters of the American Revolution for a memorial ceremony at the Congress Park War Memorial on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – With a December chill in the morning air, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution gathered Thursday at the Congress Park War Memorial for an annual wreath-laying ceremony—at the precise moment in 1941 that Japanese fighter planes had begun a devastating attack on the U.S. Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“This is important, to remember this day,” explained Heather Mabee, a principal organizer of the event and the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter.
As of July 2017, nearly 76 years after that fateful morning thrust the United States into World War II, Mabee reported that there were still a handful of survivors who served on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor. “The ship was most heavily hit in the raid,” she said, reading from a prepared statement.
The surprise Japanese attack, which started at 7:55 a.m., damaged or destroyed 20 U.S. ships and 300 aircraft; it also claimed the lives of more than 2,400 U.S. military personnel and civilians, while injuring almost 1,200 individuals.
“More than seven decades after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared Dec. 7, 1941 as ‘a date which will live in infamy,’ tangible proof of the day’s events are still visible at Pearl Harbor,” Mabee continued. “Machine-gun strafing holes from Imperial Japanese fighter planes still dot the now-unused runway at Ford Island and airplane hangars at Hickam Air Force Base. Oil, sometimes called ‘black tears,’ still seeps up from the sunken USS Arizona, beading the surface of the water at the battleship’s memorial.”
Similar wreath-laying ceremonies are held nationwide each December, Mabee said, to recognize the U.S. Navy ships and people lost at various battle sites in Pearl Harbor.