Ricketts honors Nebraska’s Pearl Harbor survivors

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- At a ceremony on Wednesday, Governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation marking December 7, 2017, as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in Nebraska.

Of Nebraska’s four remaining Pearl Harbor survivors, three attended the ceremony: Walter Barsell, 96, of Wahoo; Ed Guthrie, 99, of Omaha; and Melvin Kennedy, 94, of Grand Island.

“Today’s proclamation is a symbol of appreciation for the sacrifices of the men and women who have served to defend our country,” said Governor Ricketts. “Thank you to our Pearl Harbor survivors and their families for being here today. It is humbling to think these men witnessed and were a part of one of America’s most historic and defining moments. It is a distinct honor to meet with them and sign this proclamation in celebration of their bravery.”

“The Department of Veterans’ Affairs would like to thank these men for their service and congratulate them on receiving this honor today,” said Director of the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs John Hilgert. “Our Pearl Harbor survivors are part of history, and showing our gratitude for their bravery and sacrifice is extremely important.”

The attack on Pearl Harbor, which launched the United States’ involvement in World War II, took place 76 years ago and claimed the lives of over 2,400 Americans.

According to the governor’s proclamation, flags are to be flown at half-staff in accordance with federal law. Citizens are encouraged to observe appropriate ceremonies and activities in appreciation of the sacrifices of those who served in World War II.

“Things happened so fast on that Sunday morning. First, we could smell the flowers in the air. It was the South Pacific, Sunday morning sunshine and everything. Five minutes later, we couldn’t smell flowers. We could smell burning oil and gasoline, and it was all chaos,” said Survivor Walter Barsell. After the attack, Americans ‘got together,’” he went on. “We don’t want to go through anything like that again, but I would like to see us get together.”

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