Cuyahoga Falls American Legion Post hosts Pearl Harbor ceremony

by STeve wiandt | REPORTER Published:

Cuyahoga Falls -- Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, did not go unnoticed at Charles Faust American Legion Post 281 which annually commemorates that infamous day.

During a 30-minute program that drew a crowd of around 50 people, "Remembering Pearl Harbor" was hosted by Sharon McClain. Post Chaplain Don Slider gave the invocation and benediction. Speakers were Mayor Don L. Robart and Pearl Harbor survivor Gary Rossi.

Rossi, 91, said he was in a barracks on the other side of a mountain range from Pearl Harbor when it was attacked. He added that had he gotten his wish and been transferred to the Air Corps, a request his captain denied, Rossi would have been stationed at the airfield that was bombed and likely added to the list of casualties.

Although Rossi could not see the harbor from his side of the mountains, he knew that Japan's attack on Pearl would change the world forever.

"I look at [Pearl Harbor Day] with sadness because of the way the world is going," Rossi said. "The real shock of it came to me when [terrorists] attacked on 9/11, 60 years after Pearl Harbor. What I saw brought back memories." He said there were certain aspects of both days that were identical. "The weather was nice, the shock ­-- I thought I was reliving Pearl Harbor all over again."

Rossi, a Falls native now living in Tallmadge, said Pearl Harbor was a major event that triggered the start of World War II. "We better be on the ball and always be alert," he warned. Rossi said America needs to keep its military well funded. "We better be wise to the fact we're in bad times," he said. "We may not have a country if we don't take care of it."

Robart said Americans should never forget what happened at Pearl Harbor. The number of servicemen who were there and lived to tell about it is becoming less and less as time goes by.

"For more than half a century, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association gathered in Hawaii every Dec. 7 to commemorate the attack," Robart said. "… But sadly, in 2011, the 70th anniversary of the attack was the last one marked by the Survivors Association." He said the organization disbanded at the end of last year due to dwindling membership.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association had 28,000 members when it was founded in 1958. Membership in 2011 was 2,700.

Robart challenged everyone to remember Pearl Harbor and the fact that Dec. 7, as described by President Franklin Roosevelt, "is indeed a date that lives in infamy."

Email: swiandt@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9420

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