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Ceremony marks Pearl Harbor anniversary

Remembering Pearl Harbor

World War II veteran Marvin Westcott recalls what it was like to see the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack as his ship, the USS Balch, returned to the harbor early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.
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World War II veteran Marvin Westcott recalls what it was like to see the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack as his ship, the USS Balch, returned to the harbor early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

GULFPORT -- Two Pearl Harbor veterans were on hand Monday morning for the ceremonial wreath laying marking the anniversary.

Seventy-four years after the "date which will live in infamy," Harold McDaniel and Marvin Westcott both still have plenty of stories to tell. And 74 years later, the anniversary of the attack that would thrust the U.S. into World War II is still solemnly remembered every Dec. 7.

"America must always remember the brave and the innocent who gave their lives to keep us free," said Chris Alexander, the Armed Forces Retirement Home resident services chief.

McDaniel and Westcott were both stationed on ships and were outside the port when the attack that killed more than 2,000 Americans occurred. Both recall returning to Pearl Harbor and seeing the destruction the next day.

Alexander also conjured another image in his speech for the anniversary -- that of sailors, some still sleeping and some preparing for the day.

"To them, the idea of war seemed palpable but remote," he said.

After the attack, after those sailors strapped on weapons over pajamas and rushed to defend the base, after many of them died, "What lived on was the shock wave that swept across America," Alexander said.

"They gave their lives but will live forever in our memory," he said.

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