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Colusa ceremony remembers Pearl Harbor
Stony Mark was just a young boy in Wyoming when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
"I remember everyone was crying and everyone was raring to go into the military and fight," Mark said following a ceremony to remember that 71st anniversary of that day of infamy on Friday morning at the Colusa County Courthouse.
Eager perhaps, but the men and women who have come to be known as the "Greatest Generation" paid a terrible price.
"I lost two uncles in World War II," said Mark, who would serve in the US Army during the Korean War and went on to serve as the commander of the Williams VFW post before it lost its charter.
The number of Americans who died in the war, military and civilian, was 418,500. At Pearl Harbor, 2,402 died, 1,102 of those on the USS Arizona. There were 23 sets of brothers who died on that battleship.
"It changed the course of history," said VFW Post Commander Harold McCarthy, who conducted the ceremony.
Altogether, more than 60 million people died in the war — about 2.5 percent of the world's population — making it the deadliest conflict in the history of mankind.
The Rev. Tom Tripp, the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Colusa, told the small gathering that Americans today should strive to live up to that legacy.
"We pray for the same kind of qualities that came out of this generation, the greatest, will rise up again," Tripp said.
Among the qualities Tripp listed includes courage, valor and patriotism.
Mark was one of 20 members of the Colusa Veterans of Foreign Wars and Maxwell American Legion who came out for the annual service.
Anastasia Azevedo sang the national anthem, and Ron Simmons played Taps as a seven-member rifle team fired off a salute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
For Mark the remembrance is particularly poignant.
"We had Japanese neighbors who were the best neighbors," Mark recalled. "That is why it was so hard for me to believe the Japanese did that to us."
That family would be gathered up and sent to an interment camp — he believes somewhere in Arizona.
For others, such as Ken Flagor, the dwindling numbers attending the event has grown sadder.
Flagor was 15 when Pearl was attacked, and enlisted in the military when he was 17 — one of just a handful of World War II veterans left in Colusa County.
He wonders if perhaps fewer and fewer even care.
But Mark is not among those.
He prefers to look at those who did attend and celebrate their patriotism.
"I think it is really great in a town this size," Mark said. "I think we are very patriotic."
The ceremony started at 7:55 a.m., the time the Japanese bombs first fell at Pearl on Dec. 7, 1941.
It was 10:55 a.m. on the West Coast and 12:55 p.m. in Wyoming.
"We should remember," Mark said.