AURORA, Ill. (NNS) -- The commander of Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), was the keynote speaker at the 42nd Annual Pearl Harbor Day Memorial Luncheon in the Gaslight Manor Banquet Hall, Dec. 5.
"From Dec. 7, 1941 through the entirety of World War II, the post war period and beyond, our country was led and fueled by the heroes of our greatest generation," Rear Adm. David P. Steindl told the more than 200 people attending the luncheon, including six Pearl Harbor survivors and one survivor of the Asiatic Fleet.
"It's my honor and humbling privilege to be here, especially in the presence of these American patriots who fought for our freedom in World War II," Steindl said.
The luncheon marked the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack by the Japanese Imperial Navy on Pearl Harbor Navy Base and Hickam Air Base on Oahu, Hawaii.
The luncheon was co-hosted by the Navy League of the United States Aurora Council and the Rotary Club of Aurora, and included other military veterans and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) cadets.
Steindl called the attack on Pearl Harbor an important lesson that Americans today should learn from the service members who survived the attack.
"It is an important lesson that we learn from the character and uncommon valor shown in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor," Steindl said. "Sometimes when it really matters, life is about handling the cards you are dealt. And that lesson could not be more clear or applicable today. The legacy of the 'Greatest Generation' is one of character and core values of honor, courage and commitment to your country. This generation united in putting their country first. They rose to the challenge, overcame disaster, broke social barriers and explored new frontiers. This generation will always be remembered for their tremendous willpower, energy, innovation, character and most importantly their ability to unite for a common and worthy cause."
Many of the survivors said they were touched by the luncheon but added they all would rather honor and remember their shipmates that lost their lives on that "Day of Infamy."
"I'm not here for me," said Joe Triolo, 91, from Waukegan, Ill., who served as a boatswain's mate on board USS Tangier (AV 8). "I'm here to remember those that are still at Pearl Harbor. Those that didn't survive the attack."
Survivor John Terrell, 91, of Lake Forest, Ill., said he is always touched by the number of people and current active duty service members who attend the ceremony each year.
"It means a lot and is very reassuring to see the present generation of military is carrying on for us who have gone before," said Terrell, who was a mineman aboard USS Perry (DD 340).
Steindl echoed the thoughts of the survivors.
"It is important that we have ceremonies like this one today," Steindl said. "It is important that we remember and understand the events of the past. Those who forget history and those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
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