Area veterans will mark the 60th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with an 11 a.m. ceremony Friday, Dec. 7, on West Virginia Universitys Downtown Campus.
Veterans and members of WVU s Army and Air Force ROTC units will gather at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 548 on Spruce Street, then march to WVU s Oglebay Plaza for the ceremony, said John Horne, commander of Post 548.
The mast of the battleship USS West Virginia, sunk during the attack that propelled America into World War II, stands in the plaza as a tribute to veterans of the war. The bell from the cruiser USS West Virginia also occupies a spot in the plaza.
The ceremony will include a 21-gun salute, taps, a flag-raising, a bell-ringing and placement of wreaths, Horne said.
Attorney General Darrell McGraw will be the guest speaker, he added. As WVU student body president, McGraw was instrumental in bringing the ships mast to Morgantown in the early 1960s.
More than 2,400 U.S. military personnel and civilians died in the Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941a day then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt said”will live in infamy.”
The USS West Virginia sank after being hit by seven torpedoes and two bombs, Horne said. Following the attack, the ship was refloated and refurbished for service during the war and was the first vessel to drop anchor in Tokyo Bay before Japan surrendered.
The ship was decommissioned after the war, and efforts began locally to have its mast transported to the WVU campus from Seattle, where the Navy was dismantling the vessel, according to West Virginia University: Symbol of Unity in a Sectionalized State by William T. Doherty Jr. and Festus P. Summers. A dedication ceremony for the mast was held March 17, 1961.
VFW Post 548 has been leading Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies at the plaza since 1975. The Universitys Army and Air Force ROTC units have also been annual participants.