Pearl Harbor remembrance in Colorado Springs moved indoors

December 6, 2013

Cold temperatures have driven the annual commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor indoors Saturday.

The 11 a.m. event brings together World War II veterans and modern-day troops to mark the event that plunged America into World War II. Organizers are hoping to bring several of the area's half-dozen surviving Pearl Harbor veterans to the event.

"I have one guy coming who is 100 years old," said John O'Donnell, who is planning the event.

The event was to have been held in Memorial Park. With forecasts calling for temperatures in the teens Saturday, the event is moving to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department at 2880 International Circle.

"We are taking this step to make the ceremony more comfortable for all guests, including our esteemed World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors," said Dick Cooper with the Navy League in Colorado Springs, which sponsors the event.

O'Donnell said Colorado Springs is one of a small number of cities that still mark Dec. 7.

"Pearl Harbor was the seminal moment of the 20th century for all 15 million men and women who served in World ear II," he said. "They are our parents and grandparents and we need to honor them."

But remembering Pearl Harbor has become more difficult as the number of veterans who witnessed the attack has dwindled. The National Pearl Harbor Survivor Association folded in 2011.

One of the few survivors left will be honored Saturday. A guest of honor is retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing of Colorado Springs.

The 100-year-old fought fires aboard the USS West Virginia, which was torpedoed at Pearl Harbor.

To remember the attack, the Navy League is focusing on the legacy of Pearl Harbor for today's troops.

The League is bringing in U.S. Northern Command's Navy Rear Adm. Kerry Metz to speak. A Navy SEAL and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Metz leads special operations troops for the command at Peterson Air Force Base.

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