An unseasonably warm morning made it more comfortable for those who attended a Sharp County ceremony at the Spring River Bridge in Hardy on Friday, Dec. 7, commemorating the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Veterans from wars around the world gathered to show their respect for the veterans whose lives were lost and families that were forever impacted by the "day that will live in infamy." Locally, a number of veterans, including Nelson Gatewood, remembered that Sunday morning in 1941 very well, and expressed hope the event will never be forgotten, despite the decreasing crowds that show up each year to remember the day.
The last of the known Sharp County Pearl Harbor survivors, Roy Moody, passed away just weeks ago, and the service was conducted in his honor by the Cherokee Village American Legion Post 346, VFW Post 4772, DAV #55 and the Purple Heart Association.
Before the service, the men took time to visit and re-live memories of their service to the country. In 1921, Gatewood said he was 17 years old and living in central Ohio. Because he didn't have an address, the draft board couldn't find him, He did enter the military during World War II, however still remembers well hearing news of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Dave Ewers, American Legion Sgt. At Arms, opened the service by expressing the importance of supporting active duty soldiers and their families, stating, "Let us remember those who served in Pearl Harbor, let us remember Pearl Harbor as a selfless sacrifice, and remember those who are deployed this holiday season away from their homes protecting our freedom." The invocation was given by Reverend Deweiss from the Cherokee Village, followed by Denise Gibbons singing the National Anthem. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Gatewood before the introduction of keynote speaker Roger Pouhler, a United States Army Special Forces veteran.
Pouhler gave a history of the events leading up to the attacks at Kanawa Naval Air Station in 1941, which led to the United States' entry into World War II. During his talk, Pouler gave startling statistics regarding the loss of life and military equipment during Pearl Harbor. He also offered his condolences to the Roy Moody family. "May God rest his soul. He will be sadly, sadly missed." He explained that, during the Japanese attacks, the U.S.S. Arizona was sunk, losing all hands within fifteen minutes of the second round of attacks. The ship had 1,177 aboard. The U.S.S. West Virginia was also hit by seven torpedos and sank. Pearl. Over 2,000 were killed and 2,000 wounded at Pearl Harbor, something Pouhler said should never be forgotten. "Today, we are here to commemorate all our loved ones serving now and who have served before us to keep this nation a free country for everyone to live in. God Bless America."
The crowd sang God Bless America, followed by the veterans groups 21 gun salute and the tossing of a memorial wreath as Taps was played. The wreath was placed into the Spring River below in honor of all the lives lost at Pearl Harbor. 30 seconds of silence was observed before the benediction was offered.
Many veterans commented on the loss of Moody and said the service wasn't the same, as he was very active in area Pearl Harbor Day services for many years.