On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the USS Midway Museum commemorated the courage and sacrifice of the servicemembers and civilians who were in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. While no Pearl Harbor survivors were able to attend the ceremony held on the museum’s flight deck, it was critical to carry on their spirit of bravery and resolve.
“The Pearl Harbor Survivor Association has the motto of ‘Keep America Alert,’” said Karl Zingheim, Midway’s historian. “If there’s one lesson that has to be passed along to today’s generations, it’s that you can’t take anything for granted and you always have to be ready to defend liberty at a moment’s notice.”
More than 200 veterans and community members attended the Midway’s annual ceremony, including the sons of Pearl Harbor survivor, Clayton Schenkelberg. Clayton, who was stationed at the submarine base at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked, passed away in 2021 at the age of 103.
“We must continue the legacy,” said Clayton’s son Patrick Schenkelberg. “My dad attended this ceremony for 15 years at least, so I’ll continue to be here for him until I can’t come any more. I know that he’s up there looking down on us. It’s important for me and it makes me feel good to be here for him.”
“It’s not just what he did at Pearl Harbor, which was pretty amazing, but it’s the man that he was,” said Bob Schenkelberg, reflecting on his father’s life. “It’s the legacy he left for us to ensure we show respect for everybody.”
For Navy veteran Robert Ling, it’s important that all of America takes a moment each year to show their respect for those who were at Pearl Harbor.
“It meant a lot to me because my father was a World War II veteran,” said Robert, who severed in the Navy during the Vietnam War from 1964-1968. “I come here to the Midway every Dec. 7. It is an honor to be part of this day.”
On the 81st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, very few survivors from that day are still alive. Of the estimated 50,000 U.S. military personnel stationed on the island of Oahu when the Japanese attacked more than eight decades ago, it’s believed there may be less than 100 remaining survivors of that fateful day.
“Each passing year, the number of Pearl Harbor veterans gets smaller,” said Karl, who was the commemoration ceremony’s keynote speaker. “We’re now in this delicate transition phase where time has moved on and there are hardly any actual living veterans of Pearl Harbor left. It’s incumbent upon the rest of us to carry forward the experience and sacrifice of these veterans for future generations. We need to keep their memories alive to preserve their legacy.”
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