CLERMONT COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Today begins Pearl Harbor remembrance week in Clermont County following an official declaration by County Commissioners.
Veterans gathered in New Richmond Sunday afternoon to honor those who died in that attack.
A memorial in New Richmond along the river front was built to pay tribute to Clermont county's veterans, but only a few from World War II are left including Joe Whitt, the county's only survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Whitt's recollection of that day are crystal clear. He says "I remember everything that happened, but I tuned it in at the time that it happened in my brain and I see it."
Whitt was an 18 year old sailor on December 7th 1941. He woke up that day planning to take it easy, but moments later he says he found the nation was at war. "They gave me a rifle, a bandolier of ammunition, put a world war one hat on my head and I rushed up to the deck and there was those planes bombing and those ships was on fire."
Whitt says the surprise attack was like hell on earth. "We had these ships a burning, water's a burning and men trying to get off of them burning ships they're jumping overboard into the burning water and they're getting burned up."
More than 2300 American servicemen lost their lives in that attack which is why their sacrifice was honored in Clermont County during a special ceremony complete with a color guard and speeches including an address by Representative Brad Wenstrup, who is also a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. "We must ask ourselves each and every day would those who gave their lives for us say that we were worth it."
State Representative Doug Green sang a few bars of the theme songs from all five branches of the U.S. armed services.
Clermont County Commissioner Edwin Humphrey says veterans deserve our nation's respect. "It's very important to Clermont County to recognize our veterans. The County Commissioners do that at our County Commission meetings as people return or are deployed."
Ron Hartman with American Legion post 72 says it's important to honor those veterans who died a lifetime ago. "We lost a lot of men and women in the bombing over there in Pearl Harbor and so forth and the generation of today needs to realize the freedom....the things that transpired back then...so the freedom we've got today started back then."
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day has been held here Clermont County since 1982.