WHITMAN — Usually, Marine Corps veteran Jim Murphy can be found each December placing holiday wreaths on the graves of fallen servicemen and women at Arlington National Cemetery.
This year, however, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has limited access to the cemetery to military personnel to perform that honor as America marks the 79th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the United States military forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, leading to America’s entry into World War II.
Instead, Murphy attended a brief ceremony at the Whitman American Legion Post 22 in Whitman.
While the ceremony lasted only about five minutes, the solemn occasion was just as heart-felt for participants as if it had been a parade had taken place.
Color guards and honor guards from the Legion and Whitman VFW posts rendered salute to the fallen, while prayers were offered, “Taps” was played and a ceremonial rifle volley was fired.
Post Commander Walter Aylward offered a brief speech and participants then attended a breakfast reception inside the Post.
During the attack on Dec. 7, 1941, 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. A further 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships (the USS Arizona and the USS Utah) and destroyed 188 aircraft, according to the National Park Service website.
This years Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration’s theme, “Above and Beyond the Call,” represents a milestone of its own, as the first Dec. 7 commemoration to follow the nationwide commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.