My most vivid memory of Pearl Harbor Day came when I was assigned to cover a Survivors Memorial ceremony near Vero Beach, Florida. This was back in 1989 or 1990, when I was a reporter for the Sebastian Sun.
The ceremony was very somber, and the Vero Beach chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association had a pretty decent membership at the time. To end the ceremony, they placed a wreath in the water and watched as it floated our to sea.
Well, that was the plan, anyway. On this morning, I'm not sure if it was the tide or the wake of a boat, but the wreath did not drift away from the shore. It came back to the shore from the end of the short pier where it was launched.
When it got close to the shore, one of the survivors went back to the end of the pier. This time, instead of simply lowering the wreath into the water, he sort of Frisbeed it out about 20 feet away from the pier.
The wreath hit the water and just sat there, bobbing in place, not drifting away or back to the shore. Everyone stood and watched, not sure what to do.
After about 5 minutes, a long-haired guy on a Jetski came out of nowhere, grabbed the wreath, gave a sort of nod and salute, and headed out to open water.
All of the survivors, old men limping or partially bent over or in wheel chairs, returned the salute, waited a few minutes as the Jetski motored away, and then departed the shore for a tent with drinks and snacks.
I'm sure there are fewer survivors at ceremonies today. But I'm also sure they still take their tributes just as seriously.