Close to 100 people gathered in Oklahoma City near NW 13 Street and Broadway around an anchor from the USS Oklahoma to remember the “day which will live in infamy,” 74 years later.
In a solemn ceremony led by local VFW members, the lives lost in Pearl Harbor were memorialized through passionate speeches and songs, salutes and symbolic flowers. And the soldiers still with us were honored alongside other survivors.
On this day every year, U.S. Navy veteran Ivan Stewart said it all comes back.
“I remember the men. I look at the battleships, see right there where I was, the Oklahoma was turned over. I just see the scene all over again,” he said.
Stewart worked with aircraft equipment on Fort Island. That morning he was walking toward a hanger and a bomb was dropped on it by a Japanese plane. He said the force and heat knocked him out.
“It was a horrible confusion. Everything was terrible,” he said.
He woke up and immediately started pulling men from the water, which had a foot of oil on the surface.
“I pulled one man out of the water off the West Virginia. Oklahoma was just on the other side capsized. And I reached down to get one man and skin just came off his arms. I’ve always wondered what happened to that man. I let him fall back in the water and I feel guilty about it. And I just don’t know what happened to him,” Stewart said as he fought tears.
The surprise attacks killed more than 2,000 U.S. service members and injured many others.
But it brought out America's most resilient, ready to fight for freedom as our nation went to war.