Men and women stood silently as taps was played at the 76th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Observance in Colorado Springs on Thursday.
The commemoration was sponsored by the Colorado Springs Chapter of the Navy League of the United States, and was held at the historic Pioneers Museum downtown.
The impact of the Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, could be felt through the emotions of those who led the ceremony.
During a reading, El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller fought back tears as he told the crowd how he found out he would participate in this year's ceremony. "The email came into my inbox while I was visiting Pearl Harbor with my parents," he said as he leaned into the podium with a disbelieving shrug. "To experience that with my family was profound."
The emotion continued as retired Navy Capt. Thomas Gregory struggled to find his voice as he said, "Our nation owes the survivors of Pearl Harbor an enormous debt of gratitude."
While none of the local Pearl Harbor survivors were able to be attend the ceremony, an announcement was made on behalf of the family of Donald Stratton, a survivor of the battleship USS Arizona.
The battleship was one of the 22 ships put out of action during the 90-minute attack and resulted in almost half of total American casualties.
Through the Stratton family's connections, a piece of the USS Arizona was acquired and is currently on its way to Colorado Springs.
Over the course of 2018 it will be memorialized at an undetermined location. The roughly 4-foot-wide section of the battleship will be presented to the public during next year's Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony.
Historian Lance Blyth anchored the attack and its consequences in its historical context.
He told the story of George Elliot Jr. and Joseph Lockard, the radar operators who tried to warn commanders of a large formation of incoming aircraft on the morning of the surprise attack.
The young soldiers were told the radar blip was an expected formation of B-17s when it was actually the first wave of attacking Japanese aircraft.
Blyth walked the audience through the following years, explaining the evolution of air defense that resulted from the attacks.
The legacy of Pearl Harbor led to the formation of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
"NORAD is the actual result of the sacrifices at Pearl Harbor," he explained.
He concluded by saying that the survivors of Pearl Harbor could rest easy, "We have the watch."