LATHROP – Tom Jackson knew he was getting the chance to see something special Friday morning.
Standing before him at the lectern directly in front of Lathrop’s Veterans Memorial was Chief Petty Officer (Ret.) John Bacon – a survivor of the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941 – sharing his story and some of his memories from one of the major turning points in American history.
Next month will mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing at Pearl Harbor.
“It’s not something that you get to see every day because there aren’t very many of these men left around,” Jackson said. “I think it’s important to remember the sacrifices these men made and honor them for that. That’s what today is all about.”
Bacon talked about what it was like to be there, and how the Japanese could have caused further damage had they sent a third wave of kamikaze pilots in to take out additional targets.
And he shared his feelings about his fellow World War II veterans and their selfless sacrifices.
“If you do, or think or be like those World War II veterans then you’re going to be good people,” Bacon said. “I’m just happy to be here today, and I hope that I’ll be here for another few years.”
Veterans Day committee co-chair Arnita Montiel presented a reading entitled “What is a veteran?” and outlined the variety of different paths that those who have served take after they’ve completed their duty.
Whether serving during a conflict or during peacetime, Montiel thanked all of those who have gone out of their way to protect the liberties and the freedoms that all Americans hold dear.
“These are the ordinary yet extraordinary human beings,” she said. “It’s the finest testimony on behalf of the greatest nation on earth.”
Dozens of Lathrop Elementary choir students were on hand to perform. The event was just as much an educational tool for them as it was a chance to say thank you for those who put on the uniform.
While honoring veterans and those that served was the backbone of the event on Friday morning, Doug Beckwith could see additional benefits that would help keep the memories of the older generations of veterans alive.
“It’s a chance to keep those memories and those stories alive,” he said while pulling a tarp over the military Jeep that he arrived in. “It’s important to never forget and make sure that everyone understands.”