Braving a cold wind, a group of elderly members of American Legion Post 1941 gathered Tuesday in Calverton National Cemetery to honor those who died 80 years ago during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Along with a dozen or so others, the members held a ceremony at the cemetery’s Pearl Harbor monument. While he waited for the ceremony to begin, Phil Scaduto, 88, of Ridge, said he remembered a neighbor who had been at Pearl Harbor that day on a merchant ship.
“He was there, he saw the whole thing,” Mr. Scaduto said. “He survived, but I don’t know if he ever got over it.”
Across America on Tuesday, the 80th anniversary of the attack that brought the United States into World War II, ceremonies were held to honor the 2,403 who died that Sunday morning at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time.
In Washington D.C., President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the World War II Memorial to pay their respects. They stood in front of a wreath placed at the memorial to honor former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, a World War II veteran who died on Sunday.
James Lynch, the chaplain for Post 1941 in Port Jefferson Station, opened the ceremony by saying, “We remember these tragic events and their outcome lest we become complacent and fall victim again to someone who does not believe in our values or understand our way of life.”
In his remarks, Roby Johnson Jr., the Suffolk County commander for the American Legion and a Vietnam war veteran, said so many people he has met over the years have very personal connections to events that December 7.
“My father was in the Navy on a battleship and he left Pearl Harbor the day before, on December 6, to escort our carriers that were out to sea,” Mr. Johnson said. “He was not there for the bombing…
“Pearl Harbor is special to the American people,” he said. “The attack galvanized this country as we stood up against tyranny. Without Pearl Harbor we would not be the country we are today. The American people then joined together to defend our country.”
After his remarks, Mr. Johnson said his father, Roby Johnson Sr., remained in the Navy for the entire four years of the war. “He was offshore in a ship during the Normandy invasion in 1944,” he said, adding that “his ship was sunk, but he was OK.”
The wind whipping the flags, a lone bugler played Taps, which was first played during the Civil War. When he finished, the Legion members and others who came to the ceremony silently walked back to their cars.