Naval District Washington commemorated Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day with a wreath-laying ceremony with the Navy Band and Ceremonial Guard at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Dec. 7. Also present was former Chief Boatswain Mate Frank McCauley Ruby, age 99, of Dayton, Ohio, a Pearl Harbor survivor. The ceremony marked the 75th anniversary of the attack, in which 2,403 Americans perished. Nineteen vessels were either sunk or severely damaged. In all probability, this year’s ceremony will be the last major Pearl Harbor anniversary attended by survivors. Joined by Ruby, Rear Adm. Charles Rock, Commandant, Naval District Washington, placed a memorial wreath at the base of the Navy Memorial’s Lone Sailor Statue.
Earlier in the day, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steve Twomey discussed his new book, “Countdown to Pearl Harbor,” as part of the Navy Memorial’s “Authors on Deck” book lecture series.
Guest speaker at the event was RADM Ted Walker, U.S. Navy Memorial Treasurer and President Emeritus, who witnessed the attack as the nine-year-old son of a naval officer. Walker spoke about the urgent need at all times for military preparedness.
Frank Ruby, who joined the Navy in 1936 at age 18, was on a fuel oil barge in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. The barge held a precarious cargo of 100,000 gallons of 100 octane gasoline and 50,000 gallons of diesel oil. From his vantage point on the ship, Ruby could see the faces of the torpedo planes’ pilots. “I usually have the same summation when telling about this fateful event: ‘We all gave some; some gave all.’ There are only two people who will give their life for you; Jesus and a military man. The real heroes are still out there.”
The U.S. Navy Memorial includes both a commemorative public plaza and a Naval Heritage Center to honor those who have served in the sea services, and perpetuates their heritage, values and traditions. These include the men and women of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. Located on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, between 7th and 9th Streets, across from the National Archives, the Navy Memorial is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Admission is free.