Western Massachusetts remembers Pearl Harbor - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Western Massachusetts remembers Pearl Harbor

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Several cities and towns across the pioneer valley paid tribute on Saturday to those who served our country and made the ultimate sacrifice 72 years ago.

A Pearl Harbor ceremony was held Saturday morning in Downtown.

Several dozen people were on hand to honor the roughly 2,400 sailors, marines and soldiers who were killed at Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu.

Col. James Keefe of the 104th Fighter Wing was the guest speaker at the event.

He said it is not only important to remember Pearl Harbor, but it is also important to take away the lessons it taught our nation.

"The biggest lesson that Pearl Harbor teaches America is that you can't let down your military guard," said Keefe. "Keep it well funded, well trained, or you'll repeat history. We saw it on Sept. 11. Obviously it was an asymmetrical attack, something we weren't expecting, but we can't let our guard down."

Of the tens of thousands of servicemen who survived the attack, there are only a little over 2,000 still alive today.

One of those military men is Robert Greenleaf.

The Westfield resident was on hand for Saturday's ceremony.

He said Dec. 7, 1941, is a day he will never forget.

"What sticks with me most is the sounds of the two ships that blew up, the Arizona and the Shaw," said Greenleaf. "It sounded different that regular bombs that were falling. The closest thing to that sound today is an airplane breaking the sound barrier."

Greenleaf said he would like to see more education about Pearl Harbor in schools, as he thinks younger generations do not fully grasp what took place 72 year ago Saturday.

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