Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) held a ceremony in the ship’s hangar bay Dec. 7 to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
During the solemn ceremony, Rear Adm. Kevin Kovacich, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 commander, Capt. Daniel Grieco, Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer, Command Master Chief Bill Smalts, Theodore Roosevelt’s command master chief, and Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Alexis Russell, Theodore Roosevelt’s Blue Jacket of the Year, committed a wreath to the sea, honoring the men and women who lost their lives during the Japanese attack Dec. 7, 1941.
Russell said that she was personally honored to be a part of the ceremony, which included a 21-gun salute.
“I was actually born in Honolulu,” said Russell. “For me, personally, being given this opportunity not only highlights the Sailors who are remembered, but also highlights the unsettling grief that my home is reminded of every year on this date.”
During the ceremony, Grieco said today’s Sailors are eternally connected to those who perished at Pearl Harbor as the Navy continues to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
“We are the legacy of the unbound determination of people, such as the men on the deckplates, who fought to save their ships and shipmates,” said Grieco. “We owe it to them and the people we serve, not only to remember, but to be ready to forward deploy when our nation calls.”
The ceremony started onboard Theodore Roosevelt at 7:55 a.m., the same time the Imperial Japanese Navy began bombarding Pearl Harbor. The attack killed 2,403, wounded 1,178 people and sunk or severely damaged eight battleships. The U.S. declared war on Japan the next day, officially entering World War II.
Chief Information Systems Technician Joseph Wert was the lead coordinator for the commemoration.
“The wreath laying is symbolic in that it draws much of its meaning from the burial at sea ceremony,” said Wert. “The ceremony allowed the crew to symbolically remember the deaths of those who perished at Pearl Harbor and honor their sacrifice by committing a symbol of that courage to the deep.”
Wreath-laying ceremonies are a time-honored tradition, usually commemorating loss of life during battle. The wreath represents the honor, courage and commitment displayed by our fallen Sailors at Pearl Harbor.
“The wreath itself is round and made of evergreen, symbolizing the eternal nature of our souls,” said Wert. “The red poinsettias symbolize the blood spilled and the courage displayed. The sash compels us to remember Pearl Harbor forever and to teach our children its hard-learned lessons.”
The Sailors of Theodore Roosevelt continue to honor those killed or wounded at Pearl Harbor with their dedication to duty as they continue conducting carrier qualifications and prepare for future deployments.
Press Release, December 09, 2013; Image: US Navy