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Ogden community gathers to make sure Pearl Harbor Day isn't forgotten

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OGDEN — The American Legion and Golden Vets in Ogden gathered with community members Wednesday to honor those killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor 81 years ago. They recognize this day as a reminder to always be ready and never forget.

American Legion Post 9 held a ceremony along the Ogden river, complete with a 21-gun salute, to honor the more than 2,400 Americans killed on Dec. 7, 1941, in Hawaii. Twenty-one Utahns stationed at Pearl Harbor were also killed in the attack.

"We are here today to honor these men and women who lost their lives and suffered the wounds of war on that fateful day," said Steve Ross, vice commander of American Legion Post 9.

Barbara Garcia-Beck was only 6 months old when the attack happened. She's now on the executive committee for American Legion Post 9.

"As powerful as our country is, if we forget — we're just as vulnerable today as we were then — and if we forget that, we're in trouble," she said.

She does not remember that day, but she remembers growing up in Mississippi near a training base during World War II with a lot of planes flying overhead.

"We played the game of identifying the different planes that flew over," she said.

That's one reason she later joined the Air Force as a medic.

When she was 4, Garcia-Beck's father left for the war.

"I remember we were all crying, and we weren't really sure we understood what was happening and where he was going, because they had tried to keep some of this from us. But we knew that it was really bad and it was really serious," she said.

Veterans in Ogden performed a 21-gun salute in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day on Wednesday, the 81st anniversary of the attack in Hawaii.
Veterans in Ogden performed a 21-gun salute in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day on Wednesday, the 81st anniversary of the attack in Hawaii. (Photo: Jed Boal/KSL TV)

Those at the ceremony Wednesday tossed red roses into the Ogden River to symbolize the blood spilled that day.

Decorated Marine veteran John Cole remembers the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was 15 years old and living with his family in Colorado.

"It was unbelievable," he said. "You're concerned because you hear all these things happening and you wonder, are they coming for us?"

Not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, his family moved to Utah where his father worked at Hill Army Air Corps Base, as it was known at that time.

Cole joined the Marine Corps near the end of the war and was a distinguished leader in the Korean War.

"Everybody had to do something patriotic," Cole said. "And it was just a given to join the service and go fight for your country."

Wilson Tolman, an Air Force veteran, was only 10 months old when the attack happened. Three years later, he remembers his father working as a civilian flight instructor.

"He taught the British and the national Chinese cadets to fly. So, we were at Falcon Field. We were living in Mesa, Arizona."

Tolman served in the Air Force and is now a member of the American Legion and the Golden Vets. At the ceremony he was thinking of those who lost their lives more than eight decades ago.

"We should honor their efforts and respect and remember them," he said.

As Cole put it, the Japanese woke up a sleeping giant that day.

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