Pearl Harbor Remembered at Clovis Veterans Memorial District

WWII Marine, Vincent Shutera, 96, salutes his comrades as WWII Veteran Jack Schwartz, 101, looks on. [Photo by Ron Sundquist]

Dec. 7, 2016 marked the 75th anniversary of the attacks on the United States at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese military forces.

Supporters and veterans ranging from World War II to the most current wars gathered in the auditorium of the Clovis Veterans Memorial Building to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on that day.

“It just goes to show there’s still good people,” Joe Quercia said. “If they’re anniversarying this then we’re going to keep this country good, I hope.”

Quercia was a 19-year-old sailor aboard the USS Medusa when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor. He says the memory of that day is still fresh in his mind.

“I had breakfast that morning and I was sitting on the ship looking up the porthole and I said ‘They’re having gunnery practice on Fort Island this morning,’” Quercia added. “‘They even got red spots on their airplanes,’ I said, and then the minute that got out they came on the loudspeaker, ‘This is war, the Japanese have invaded.'”

The Pearl Harbor survivor was one of a few to take the stage during the ceremony to talk about that day and what the memory means to him.

Jolly Petersen was 12 years old when the attack happened and remembers seeing planes in the air when her dad came to get her from church.

“I looked up and saw two planes fighting, one with an American flag and the other with a red dot,” Petersen said in her time on stage. “I thought that they were just making another movie and I thought to myself, ‘I got to go see that when it’s finished.’”

To this day, the events that happened in Hawaii that December day are still surreal for most like Petersen. Both her parents held crucial parts on that day – mom served as a nurse at the hospital and dad served in the military at the time.

The ceremony gave people like Quercia and Petersen the opportunity to share their stories but also served as a recognition opportunity and to honor those who not only served on that day but also in World War II.

Different acts of remembrance and recognition were performed throughout the ceremony. Those acts ranged from the singing of “God Bless America” by Janice Noga, to the posting of the flags, to a rifle salute honoring the World War II veterans.

Now 75 years later, Pearl Harbor survivors, veterans and supporters still come together and recognize an important day of American history in a ceremony that the Clovis Veterans Memorial District will look to continue long into the future.